BOZEMAN — The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday night and runs through Saturday afternoon. Bozeman High School legend Will Dissly was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 draft by the Seattle Seahawks, and the former Hawk fondly recalls what his draft experience was like.
“It was just a really cool opportunity," said the Seahawks tight end. "I was in Bozeman just surrounded by all my friends and family, coaches -- (Bozeman head coach) Levi Wesche was there. I just was really blessed.”
On Day Three of the draft, Dissly received a call from Seahawks general manager John Schneider. Dissly was the 120th overall selection, coming off the board in the fourth round of the 2018 draft.
“Getting that call in the fourth round, like, I was shocked, so you can run the tape back, but it was genuine surprise," Dissly said. "I always felt like I worked hard enough and was talented enough -- just getting that call from John Schneider saying, 'You’re coming over to the east side (of Seattle),' I was just so excited.”
For the Seahawks tight end, that day in 2018 wasn’t about him, it was about the Bozeman community who helped him get there.
"It was nice to be back in Bozeman surrounded by my friends, their parents who drove me to basketball camps, drove me to football camps, fed me, sleepovers," he said. "All that got me to the point I am today. It was just nice to have a moment, obviously it was my name called, but I really felt like I was representing the town of Bozeman and we were all celebrating and obviously after that the town partied pretty hard.”
Before the draft, Dissly didn’t pay attention to what the media said, but he does remember what former NFL Network analyst and now Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said about him.
“During the combine had tagged me as one of the better blocking tight ends in the draft. Shoot, if you’re going to label me a good thing, I’ll just wear the heck out of that and kind of make a name for it," Dissly said.
After suffering season-ending injuries his first two years in the NFL, Dissly was happy to be on the field for all 16 games in the 2020 season to help Seattle reach the playoffs.
“Just blessed to play 16 games and then have a chance to play in the playoff game," he said. "It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but our offense did some really cool things and to just help those guys out and play, we’re just going to build on it for next year. I’m looking forward to it having a full season under my belt, first full offseason not having to rehab.”
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has targeted the former Bozeman Hawk since he joined the team, and Dissly said that’s because they have the same winning mentality. Dissly has amassed eight receiving touchdowns in 26 regular-season games.
“My mindset is, shoot, if Russell Wilson is throwing me the ball, I got to catch it. Once I do we can try to make something special happen. He’s just a guy, he’s a really good leader, he brings it every day, every work day. Always prepared, always on point. It’s just hard not to match that," Dissly said.
Last year, the Seahawks had a close-knit tight ends group, led by three-time Pro Bowler Greg Olsen, who recently retired. Dissly took note of the mentality that Olsen had when he was injured with a plantar fascia tear, but he worked hard to come back and play during the 2020 season.
“It was inspiring to see a guy just not quit on himself," Dissly said. "For him to be like, ‘You know what? This isn’t how my story is going to end.’ For him to come back and play in that playoff game and even before that was honestly a credit to who he was.”
There has been a lot of talk about Seattle's new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and the Seahawks utilizing the run game even more, but Dissly is ready for however the offense will be played.
“As a blocking tight end, I guess that’s a good thing for me," said the fourth-year tight end. "Hopefully it sets up some stuff in the pass game as well. I think we’re still going to be explosive top down and just play Seahawk ball -- win close games and have a ton of fun.”
The Bozeman native remembers playing football during recess at Emily Dickinson Elementary in Bozeman and the real reason why he grew a love for the sport: friendship.
“I play the game just to hang out with my best friends," Dissly said about his fondest memory as a Hawk. "We would always go out to Cosmic (Pizza) and celebrate with pizza and have a good laugh.”