Will Dissly doesn’t consider himself a typical Montanan.
Yes, he loves fishing. And he has killed a deer during a hunting trip before.
“Growing up as a three-sport athlete, I just didn’t have a lot of time for it,” Dissly said.
But for the University of Washington football offense, Dissly has become one of the true mountain-men contributors.
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A year ago at this time, Dissly was converted from defensive end after two seasons to a new role — tight end.
The 2013 Gatorade state player of the year out of Bozeman High School caught only four passes, but his first catch from quarterback Jake Browning was a 27-yard touchdown against Portland State.
Now in his second preseason camp, Dissly is firmly entrenched as the blocking tight end, often teaming up with fellow senior — and roommate — Drew Sample in two tight-end sets.
“He can set the edge pretty good,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “At times, he flashes in a big play, a real positive way. But like everything, we’re working for consistency. He’s making good strides. He’s certainly different than he was last year.”
With no John Ross in the receiving corps, and defenses likely to try to take away new No. 1 wide receiver Dante Pettis, that should leave more pass-catching opportunities for others.
And in the first two weeks of fall camp, it is apparent that these two tight ends have a good rapport with Browning.
“Jake and I, we are roommates together,” Dissly said. “We have a lot of fun on the field, tell a lot of jokes. He is a real smart guy. He will take what the defense gives him. And if he checks down to the tight ends ... as long as I make the catches I am supposed to, then we should be a successful offense.”
Even if Sample or Dissly, at 6-foot-4 and 267 pounds, don’t become prominent route-running targets, both should still set new career highs in receptions.
He can set the edge pretty good. At times, he flashes in a big play, a real positive way.
UW coach Chris Petersen on tight end Will Dissly
As a group, the returners only caught 14 passes a year ago, led by Sample’s nine receptions.
“Right now, we are clicking,” Dissly said. “We are jelling. The young guys are coming around great. We are continually taking each day to get better. The sky is the limit, and we are working toward that.”
One thing is for certain, if Petersen wants to play power-running football, chances are Dissly will be somewhere along the line of scrimmage.
“Our tight ends take a lot of pride in blocking well,” Dissly said. “We are trying to be the best unit in the Pac-12.”
True to his Montana roots, Dissly doesn’t gloat about statistics, or complain about playing time.
“Us country boys, we have grit and we work hard,” Dissly said. “We stay true to that.”