October 29, 2015 was a crisp fall night at Yager Stadium in Oxford, Ohio. The University of Buffalo squared off against Miami University in a Mid American Conference football matchup.
Hamilton native Dillon Guy lined up on the offensive line for the Bulls on a run play just minutes into the game. He was blocking fellow Canadian Mitchell Winters when bodies flew and players crashed into his right leg that was planted in the ground. After the next play, the head referee sent Guy off the field because he bleeding – the knee brace was cracked and jammed into his right knee, causing blood to flow out.
Guy went to the sidelines thinking that his brace was broken. The Buffalo training staff did a test on the bench and told him it seemed like he suffered a sprained MCL, which wouldn’t shelve him for more than a few weeks. However, the following Monday, Guy underwent an MRI and later that same day he was called back for another.
“As soon as they said that I knew something was wrong,” Guy says. “I met with my surgeon and he told me I tore my MCL off the bone and that the ACL was not there.”
But Guy has battled back from this devastating diagnosis and a litany of other injuries to earn a spot amongst the highly-touted offensive prospects in next Tuesday’s CFL Draft.
After finishing high school at Waterdown District, Guy – dad Sean played defensive line at Purdue and was picked by Hamilton in the seventh round of the 1987 CFL Draft – played one season for Champlain College in Quebec where he earned lineman of the year honours. Then he moved to the nation’s capital and suited up for the CJFL’s Ottawa Sooners while improving his marks to be eligible for an NCAA scholarship.
“I had offers from Virginia, San Diego State, Florida Atlantic and Buffalo,” Guy says. “I chose UB because it was close to home and I had a chance to start right away as a true freshman.”
That he did. Guy started six games for Buffalo in 2011, played 10 in 2012 and made five starts in 2013. That junior year wasn’t easy for the big offensive linemen. He broke a bone in his foot in training camp and a lineman got thrown into him in Week 2, which caused what was eventually diagnosed as a lisfranc injury – torn foot ligaments. Guy played the rest of the season with those foot ailments.
“My trainer said as long as I could handle the pain the injuries wouldn’t get any worse,” Guy remembers. “Everyday I was walking around in two boots to class. Then I would go to practice, take the boots off and put on cleats.”
In January 2014, Guy had surgery on his left foot and as soon as he could put weight on it in April, he had the right foot operated on.
“From when I had surgery in January until July I wasn’t able to walk – I was on a scooter,” Guy says. “Trying to get to class in a Buffalo winter on a scooter is pretty hard.”
The Bulls’ staff and Guy agreed that it would be best for him to take a medical redshirt year for the 2014 season. That allowed Guy to be fully healthy to begin 2015 until he suffered the devastating MCL and ACL tears in the eighth game of that campaign.
For the entire month last November, Guy wore a brace that kept his right leg completely straight to let the MCL heal. Then he had surgery on the ACL on November 30. In January, Guy moved back home to the Hammer and reached out to former CFL quarterback and owner of Sports Specific Training – with local facilities in Hamilton and Burlington – Larry Jusdanis to begin rehab.
“Some people get down when they get ACL surgery, but seeing me drop in the [CFL prospect] rankings – I used that as motivation,” Guy says.
That spurred a quick rehab process. Six months after surgery, Guy is recovered and cleared to do whatever he wants
“He works hard, we were aggressive with it and he’s a quick healer,” Jusdanis says. “We did a lot of one-legged, VMO (vastus medialis oblique) – the magic muscle around the knee that protects it – and hamstring work.”
Guy credits Jusdanis for developing a program that allowed him to reach his goal of being healthy and ready to workout for CFL teams in advance of the 2016 draft. And that’s exactly what he’s doing.
Guy is in the middle of a busy schedule. He finished a Western swing last week, making trips to visit CFL teams in Winnipeg, Calgary and B.C. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Up next, he will be in Hamilton May 5, Toronto May 8 and May 9 Saskatchewan.
“I want to show everyone that I may have torn my ACL, but it’s not going to hinder me,” Guy says. “I know I’m the best prospect in this draft, it may sound arrogant, but that’s the way I think.”
One of the main reasons Guy believes he’s the top player available is from playing against high-end competition. He practiced against Buffalo product and current Raiders pass rusher Khalil Mack, who went fifth overall in the 2014 NFL Draft and was named an All-Pro after a 15-sack season in 2015, for three years. Guy lined up across from 2015 All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald in game action while at Buffalo and Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, who was drafted third overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 2016 NFL Draft.
A healed knee combined with videotape for scouts to watch against those elite players should make Guy a coveted commodity on CFL Draft day.