By Greg Archuleta
UNM Assistant Director of Communications
The answer started out as what you’d expect of a college football senior earning his first invitation to a postseason all-star game. But then, Dillon Farrell took a 180-degree turn, exposing the true character of the University of New Mexico center.
Farrell received the news last week that he has been invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 18 -- the game a showcase for college seniors hoping to attract the attention of NFL scouts.
“After the season, I was just hoping to get any kind of invitation or recognition,” said Farrell, who’s back home in the unseasonably warm confines of Baton Rouge, La., where it’s a balmy 72 degrees. When Lobo football director of operations Brian DeSpain informed Farrell of his invitation, “I mean, the East-West Shrine game, it was awesome, a shocker to hear.
“It’s a historic event – not just the game itself, -- but how the game is so beneficial to the Shriners Hospital (for Children). I’m looking forward to visiting the kids just as much as I am playing the game.”
Told how different that response is from a typical senior playing in the all-star game, Farrell said simply, “I like to do that stuff; I really do.”
Of course, this is coming from a player who has visited orphanages in Haiti during his spare time. But Farrell also knows the opportunity his been given to showcase his skills in an effort to continue his football career next season on a professional level.
“As soon as the season ended, I wanted to start working out and getting ready for next spring,” the three-time Rimington Award Watch list candidate and two-time honorable mention All-Mountain West recipient said. “But I also had to let my body rest after a long season. So I’m doing some maintenance work right now, but I’ll be hitting it hard in the new year.”
The former Lobo team captain says he’s eagerly waiting for the East-West Shrine rosters to be finalized so he knows some of the players he’ll go up against and start scouring the internet for video on those players.
Farrell has yet to sign with an agent, so he plans on using little brother Devin, a 15-year high school center, as his workout partner until he gets back to UNM in January to train under the supervision of strength and conditioning coordinator Ben Hilgart.
Farrell also is finishing up his school work, getting a second degree – in communications with a minor in family studies – in May.
“I’ve got a great opportunity to work out with coach Hilgart,” Farrell said. “He knows how to prepare you for your Pro Day (in which NFL scouts test players in various agility and speed drills). He’ll kick your butt, which is a good thing.”
For now, getting some time off and being back home also is a good thing, mostly.”
“I get down here and it feels like summer,” Farrell said. “At least in Albuquerque, it feels like winter.”
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED HONORS WIGGINS: Sophomore kick returner Carlos Wiggins added another national honor to his resume. Sports Illustrated named him an honorable mention all-America returner earlier this week.