MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The way last week started for K.J. Dillon gave him no reason to believe it would end how it did.
The freshman safety made a tackle on a kickoff and nearly blocked a punt in No. 8 West Virginia's 42-12 win last Saturday against James Madison. A day later he was named the team's special teams player of the week.
"I really don't know how, to tell the truth," he said. "I just gave a lot of effort, made a couple plays, almost made a couple more."
How things started the previous Sunday didn't point toward that outcome. Dillon was in the hospital.
"My diabetes was acting up," he said.
He'd made a mistake and hadn't monitored his blood sugar level as closely as he needed to, letting it get too high as he learns more about a life he's just getting to know as a diabetic student-athlete.
"My body started to shut down," he said. "I was in the hospital Sunday, but they released me. I was in class Monday. Didn't miss any classes and I was at practice Tuesday."
He practiced all week and traveled to the shadow of the Nation's Capital last Friday so that he might play with the rest of the Mountaineers a day later at FedEx Field, home of the NFL's Washington Redskins.
Quite a journey from Apopka High, a Class 6A high school in central Florida. Consider that for a time the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Dillon wasn't sure any of it would ever happen. He committed to the Mountaineers in December, a few weeks before he'd ink a scholarship on national signing day and with no hint of the battle he'd soon begin.
"I'd been trying to gain weight and I was at 200-something pounds, but I went down and lost maybe 30 pounds," he said. "I got real skinny. I couldn't gain weight. I was going to the bathroom a lot. I finally told my mom, 'I can't take it anymore.' "
A doctor checked out Dillon and came back with the stunning news. Dillon was not only diabetic, but critically close to danger.
"I was a day away from going into a diabetic coma," he said.
It was Jan. 31, a Tuesday, the last day of the month. National signing day is the first Wednesday of February every year.
"I was supposed to sign the next day, but I was nervous," he said. "I didn't know if West Virginia was going to take me."