So many things about Kevin Dillman's story are quintessentially American. The high school freshman came out of nowhere to turn heads during his first season, showing a penchant for making the big play and the size and athleticism to get himself out of trouble. A year in, Dillman seems almost like the physical embodiment of the early acts of 'The Natural' re-written for high school football.
There's just one trick: Dillman isn't American -- or at least he wasn't until two weeks ago. Rather, the La Mirada (Calif.) High star is Swedish, and his birth nationality required him to miss all but four games of his first American campaign. As explained more fully by Rivals.com recruiting analyst Adam Gorney, Dillman first arrived in California in late July, but was only there on a tourist visa. That meant he had to depart before the football season had even reached its midpoint or risk deportation.
Dillman chose to head back to Sweden and try to gain American citizenship. That quest was rewarded in February, and now the teen is back on the West Coast and collecting scholarship offers at a rapid clip; officially, the Class of 2015 passer has four college offers, one per game that he's played.
According to La Mirada football coach Mike Moschetti, there's good reason for that: Dillman might be one of the most naturally talented quarterback prospects to emerge in years.
"I've never seen anything like this kid," Moschetti told Gorney. "I saw Matt Barkley play as a freshman and there's no comparison. This kid is a freak. He's big, he's fast, he throws deep and mentally he has it all. I didn't want him to stay here and then immigration down the road makes it hard on him to become a legal citizen. I know he's going to get recruited by everybody."
So far, the list of schools chasing Dillman includes California, Colorado, Louisville and UCLA. In particular, the Swedish 15-year-old left a stirring impression with the new head coach of the Bruins.
"I sent the film to [UCLA assistant coach Demetrice] Martin and said, 'Don't even say anything and sit down and let [UCLA head coach Jim] Mora watch this,'" Moschetti told Gorrney. "He watched five minutes and said, 'We're offering him.'"
Clearly, Dillman will have plenty of opportunities to make a big impact on his new country ahead of him. The question may be whether his performance in his sophomore season can make believers out of those who might still doubt him because of his European background.
Based on Gorney's research, it doesn't seem like that European background will hold Dillman back at all. Rather, the player who competed with 18 and 19-year-olds on Sweden's national team at age 13 is likely to build on his normal 6 a.m. training routines to add finesse to his already astounding strength.
In the weight room, Dillman can lift 250 pounds on the hang clean. On the field, he resembles a blend of younger versions of Carson Palmer and Jake Locker. His freshman highlight tape displays great touch, an advanced feel in the pocket and the ability to throw on the run. He's generating as much buzz as Bear (Del.) Red Lion Christian Academy's David Sills -- the 2015 quarterback who committed to USC as a 13 year old in 2010 -- and could surpass his potential as his career progresses. An American citizen for mere weeks, the future now seems limitless.