The NFL Draft is only weeks away and athletes all over the country are ready to prove why they deserve to be on a team. We talk to UCLA’s Dalton Hilliard as he talks about his road to the NFL Draft.
Joe Gaiter: Where are you from and how was your childhood?
Dalton Hilliard: My hometown is Mililani, Hi. But my father was in the marines for most of my life so we moved around a lot. Six different places to be exact; Chicago, California, Virginia, North Carolina, New York, Hawaii.
Joe Gaiter: When did you start playing football?
Dalton Hilliard: 4th grade.
Joe Gaiter: What are the keys to playing your position on the field?
Dalton Hilliard: Knowing what everyone else on the field is doing, and having the ability to be a factor in both the run game and pass game. Toughness and physicality is key
Joe Gaiter: What are some things that you learned from your college football experience at UCLA?
Dalton Hilliard: Mid-stream adjustments are key. Especially during the game, you have to be able to absorb new adjustments within the defense during a game. Also I had 3 defensive coordinators over my 4 year career, which means I had to learn 3 different playbooks.
Joe Gaiter: What are your thoughts about your teammates that are also entering into the draft?
Dalton Hilliard: We have a great group of UCLA draft prospects this year. These are the guys that endured the rollercoaster ride that was our career at UCLA, and together helped put UCLA back on the map. I have a lot of love for this group and wish the best for all of us.
Joe Gaiter: Do you have a backup plan if you don’t get drafted?
Dalton Hilliard: Real-estate, training, or coaching probably. I love this game so I really want to stay involved.
Joe Gaiter: What is your motivation for playing football?
Dalton Hilliard: Chasing a dream I have had since 4th grade, my parents, doubters, and using the talents God has given me to affect people positively both on the field and off the field.
Joe Gaiter: Now you come from a family of athletes. Your dad was an All American athlete and mother played women’s professional football league. What advice and support do they give you?
Dalton Hilliard: Work hard play hard is the motto for the Hilliard family . And I think that hard work and doing the right thing has been the one thing my parents have consistently preached since I was born.
Joe Gaiter: Who has been a major influence on your career?
Dalton Hilliard: My family because they have been my support system throughout my life and making them proud is enough motivation for me.
Joe Gaiter: What are your biggest strengths on the field?
Dalton Hilliard: My athleticism, quickness, strength, and ability to catch the ball. I am versatile and can play a multitude of positions and I am a very good special teams player.