CENTER OF ATTENION: KESTNER GUIDES FSU'S OFFENSIVE LINE
June 11, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE - When Dillon Kestner first enrolled at Fayetteville State, he was a rangy 240-pound linebacker destined to inhale blockers and terrorize quarterbacks.
Coming out of Southern Durham High School in Durham, N.C., Kestner was known for his never-ending energy supply, high motor and football intelligence.
It was those attributes that caught the eye of Broncos’ Head Coach Kenny Phillips.
Ironically, following his redshirt freshman season, Phillips and his coaching staff moved Kestner to center where he wound up protecting the people he used to hunt.
Three years and 40 pounds later, Kestner is a two-time All-CIAA selection and the anchor of one of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s (CIAA) most experienced offensive lines.
“Your center is almost just like your quarterback on the offensive side of the ball,” explained Phillips. “It has to be someone intelligent, because we put a lot on him making calls and blocking schemes. He points out certain players on the defensive ball and makes assignments. Dillon’s been here five years and I wish I could keep him a couple more.”
While at FSU, Kestner has helped the Broncos claim their third CIAA title, make their third appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs and has racked up a 22-12 record in CIAA play.
FSU’s accolades and success during his career, doesn’t mean the 6-foot-2, 291-pound Kestner has lost motivation.
“Every year it’s about getting bigger, faster and stronger,” he said. “During the off-season I want to continue to improve and get better. Last year’s seniors really made us strive for excellence and the CIAA title. We want to set the bar even higher this year, do big things and hopefully repeat as conference champs.”
With FSU losing several starters on defense, Kestner said the offense is preparing to shoulder a little more of the load.
“Historically speaking, defense has always been our key to success,” he said. “We know this year that a there’s more on our backs. If we just can take strides and get better each day, we can help. But with Coach Phillips here, we’ll be fine in all phases of the game.”
The Broncos return four of five starters – left tackle Jerald Hunter, Kestner, right guard Larry McDonald and right tackle Alexander Anthony – from their 2009 squad. Offensive line coach Gary Lowery will need to replace Paul Murphy, who graduated in May, at the left guard position.
Kestner said several players, who can help bolster the depth of
the offensive line, have emerged since the end of last season.
“We’ve got some guys that stepped up in spring ball that showed some talent out there,” he said. “We have some transfers coming in and some really talented guys.”
Besides strength and conditioning, Phillips likes his offensive lineman to focus on technique during the off-season.
“Our coaches emphasize technique and the little stuff,” Kestner said. “We try to emphasize things that we didn’t do that well during the season, that way when it comes around, you’re that much better.”
With 2008 CIAA Special Teams Player of the Year Richard Medlin fully healthy, Kestner thinks the Broncos’ running game can be great.
Medlin, the Broncos’ top-returning rusher, is a senior from Raleigh, N.C. whose 22 career rushing touchdowns are second in FSU history.
While press clippings and awards often go to the skill positions, Kestner said he knows the rest of the team and coaching staff appreciate the work he and the offensive line put in.
“As offensive lineman, you know this isn’t a glory position,” he said. “We strive on being good as a unit and playing together. We’re only as strong as our weakest link. You’re not going to see us on the front page, but we do the best we can.”