One Of A Kind: Despite use of only one lung, right guard Dillon Reagan helps solidify Jacks’ offensive line

The Big Uglies. The Big Nasties. The Hogs.

All terms used to describe a football team’s offensive line.

More often than not, it takes a special breed of player to be willing to do battle in the trenches.

Humboldt State right guard Dillon Reagan can without a doubt be bestowed with the title of special.

From overcoming Cushing’s Syndrome — a rare disease which left him with the use of only one lung — to the depression that was associated with the disorder, the Issaquah, Wash. native has definitely taken the road less traveled.

”The hardest part,” Reagan began, “was the first four months. (Doctors) didn’t know what was necessarily wrong with me. I was misdiagnosed as bipolar.”

Reagan displayed the initial symptoms of Cushing’s in 2009 after earning second-team All-State honors as a freshman at College of the Redwoods. A disorder caused by a tumor on one of the endocrine glands, Cushing’s causes a massive secretion of hormones which can affect behavior and physical appearance.

It did that and more to Reagan.

”I had full-ride scholarships taken away,” he said.

A full-body scan revealed a softball-sized tumor wrapped around his heart and left lung. Open heart surgery remedied the situation but his left lung useless.

In the midst of all this, Reagan also developed diabetes.

It would have been quite easy for the 6-foot-3 kid from Washington to call it quits. No one would have blamed him.

But an offensive lineman never quits.

”I never changed my approach,” Reagan said. “It’s a position of dominance and perseverance. Being an offensive lineman helped me get through all that. It helped me not feel sorry for myself.

”It was a long road back to full speed, but, your body reacts to how you push it.”

And push he did.

Reagan hit the weight room and transformed his body — which ballooned to 380 pounds due to Cushing’s — back to the muscular 300-pound frame he showcased his freshman year. He returned to Redwoods for his sophomore campaign and again displayed the skills that made him a Division I commodity.

”I ended up getting All-California,” Reagan said. “And with the use of only one lung.”

Looking to further his football career at the university level, there was really only one option.

”I wanted to go to a good program,” Reagan said. “That clear answer was Humboldt State.”

Reagan noted the close ties Redwoods and Humboldt shared as a deciding factor. His coach at CR was Duke Manyweather, a former HSU player himself. Reagan also sought the guidance of Humboldt State strength and conditioning coach Drew Petersen during his road to physical recovery.

Reagan asked to join Humboldt State as a non-scholarship athlete during the 2012 Spring semester and head coach Rob Smith and his coaching staff were more than happy to have him.

The following season, Reagan showed why.

As a junior, Reagan started 11 games for the Jacks providing a stabilizing force for a unit which paved the way for running backs to gain 2,152 total yards. He also earned second-team all conference honors.

It is amazing how high Reagan has risen after seeing how far he had fallen. An inspiration and uplifting athlete, it is easy to label him special.

Just don’t tell Reagan that.

”It takes me a little longer to warm up and get to game speed. But I don’t want to be treated differently than my teammates,” he said.

Entering his senior season, Reagan is being counted upon to be a stalwart right guard as he is only one of two returning starters (center and good friend David Kulp the other) from last season’s road graders.

Reagan is more than ready.

”As an offensive lineman, you show up every day, no matter what happens outside of practice, no matter what’s going on at home, no matter how beat up you are. You do it again and do it every day,” he said. “We set the tempo for the rest of the practice, rest of the game. If we don’t know up, it’s hard for everyone else to show up.”

Three positions are up for grabs on the Jacks’ front line. Reagan likes what he is seeing from the player stepping up to the plate.

”Start with tackle,” Reagan began, “(Jonathon) Rowe has made tremendous contributions at camp. He’s really growing up for his in a short time. Jonathan Bajet, he’s moving over from the defensive line, and he’s been really neck-and-neck for a starting guard position. David (Kulp), he’s a great guy to play next too, a great guy to have in your corner. It just works. We don’t have to say anything, we know what we’re doing. And (Jarrett) Adams has stepped up a bit. In the last few weeks he’s learned how to play right tackle.”

Humboldt is still knee-deep in competition in preparation for the Sept. 7 season-opening home contest against Simon Fraser. Reagan notes practicing daily against a defensive line which features returners Alex Markarian, Silas Sarvinski and Tommy Stuart, to name a few, helps both the O and D.

”They are adapting to our fast offense,” Reagan said. “You’re only as good as you practice. No one shows up game day and plays good. We challenge each other every day. It gets intense. But it’s all out of competition. Competition is a thing that drives a football team.”

If everything falls into place, all the Jacks’ hard work will result in one thing: Great Northwest Athletic Conference supremacy.

There’s simply no better lasting impression for Reagan.

”A GNAC Championship,” he said. “That puts you down in the books forever, that GNAC Championship.”

Title or not, it’s a pretty safe bet Reagan has already left a lasting impression.


Ray Aspuria can be reached evenings at 707-441-0527 or Follow him at


From The Times-Standard

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