SEATTLE — Just nine days into his first NFL training camp, Bozeman’s Will Dissly is already impressing veteran teammates, including Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson.
“Dissly’s been really impressive. He’s been one of the, in my opinion, he’s been one of the stars of camp,” the Seahawks’ quarterback said earlier this week. “To me, just thinking about, you expected a guy who was going to work really hard and be a really good player, but he keeps showing up. I really, really like how he’s playing the game and I think we’re all really impressed by his professionalism. That comes from the University of Washington, him playing big-time football, him coming over here, being with coach (Chris) Petersen and coming over here.”
“Dissly’s been really impressive. In my opinion he’s been one of the stars of camp.” – @DangeRussWilson
— Washington Football (@UW_Football) August 6, 2018
“I think someone had mentioned it to me. That’s really cool,” Dissly said of Wilson’s comments. “Whenever a veteran says you’re doing good things, your eyes kind of brighten up a little bit and you get really excited about what they said. To go out there and compete with that guy is unbelievable. The way he carries himself, the way he sets the example, it’s hard not to replicate that, to go out and be focused day in and day out and improve that much just like he’s trying to do.”
The praise from Wilson has been echoed by teammates and coaches, including head coach Pete Carroll, this preseason. It’s been a good sign for the Seattle organization that drafted the former Bozeman Hawk and Washington Husky with the No. 120 pick in the NFL Draft.
Montana’s 2013 Gatorade player of the year has become semi-famous in the Seattle area after beginning his University of Washington career on the defensive line, before making the change to tight end before his junior season. Lauded for his blocking abilities, Wilson and the Seahawks are becoming appreciative of Dissly’s all-around game, which included catching consecutive passes during team drills on Saturday — a third-down conversion, followed by a 15-yard first down — according to the Seattle Times.
“His knowledge of the game, his intelligence. Just the little things,” said Wilson. “How he transfers the ball, catching it and putting it away. How he moves. He visualizes the game really well. Way more experience than any typical rookie and it’s exciting to see and we’re going to need him. We’re going to need him to step up in a big way and I think it’s been cool to see Will Dissly do that.”
“It’s been good. I’ve had a lot of fun and I’ve learned a ton,” Dissly said. “The team looks really good. The offense is growing every day, we’re growing, getting closer, so I’m just excited to go see what we can do on Thursday.”
Thursday night will be the first time Dissly takes the field for a game with Seattle, a preseason affair against the Indianapolis Colts. The defensive-turned-offensive end played in front of numerous raucous crowds in the Pac-12 Conference, including the University of Washington’s own Husky Stadium, but he says competing in Seattle’s famous CenturyLink Stadium, widely considered one of the most challenging places for opponents in the NFL, is a different beast.
“I’ve only practiced in CenturyLink, I’ve never been to a game. So I can only imagine what the 12s are like,” Dissly said of the Seahawks’ fanbase, known as the 12th Man. “I’m excited to experience that. As far as expectations going in the game, we’re just looking to go out and compete, beat the guy across from you and hopefully we come out on top.”
Thursday’s game also marks the first time Dissly has seen true game action since December, after he helped the Huskies to an appearance in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl, a 35-28 loss to Penn State. After training in both Seattle and back home in Bozeman leading up to April’s NFL Draft, Dissly’s return to organized football came during the Seahawks’ OTAs (organized team activities) in May.
“It’s been since January since I put pads on? That felt good. The first pop was something special, but it’s back to football, everyone is working really hard, everyone is growing, so that was awesome,” he said. “I guess from a rookie perspective, OTAs was kind of getting my feet wet and now my feet are kind of underneath me, so we’re just taking it stride by stride. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but definitely competing every day and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Training camp has also pitted Dissly against some of the Seahawks’ top defensive rookies, defensive ends Rasheem Green (University of Southern California) and Jacob Martin (Temple) and linebacker Shaquem Griffin of Central Florida, who the team selected after Dissly.
Griffin became an NFL Combine sensation after clocking a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, the fastest ever by a linebacker, and wowed scouts despite an amputated left hand. He quickly caught Dissly’s attention during drills.
“Shaquem is fast, man. I mean, that 40-(yard dash time) was no joke. He’s a special player. One thing I appreciate him, he always comes with a positive attitude. This whole thing is about energy, camp gets long and hard, but you see him over there and he has a smile on his face. It’s a good time,” said Dissly.
Both rookies will attempt to impress the coaching staff against the Colts on Thursday night. Dissly has made the most of his reps with the first-team offense during training camp, but plans to make the most of every snap he gets during the preseason.
“As far as goals, just try to limit the mental mistakes. As far as being a rookie, (I’m) going to be asked to do a lot of cool things. One thing I’m focused on going in is getting back in the groove of special teams. Make sure I’m competing there, working hard, trying to make plays. Hopefully we get some wins in the preseason and get the ball rolling,” Dissly said.
Perhaps it’s time for Seattle’s 12th Man to see what has their star quarterback so impressed.