Kodiak’s Kordell Pillans thought his football career was over after tearing his left MCL in Mesa Community College’s 2017 season opener.
The season-ending knee injury came on Mesa’s seventh offensive snap of the young campaign.
Pillans, a 6-foot-5 320-pound offensive lineman, got rolled into, causing his left leg to give out.
“I sat on the sideline and they told me my MCL was completely torn and they couldn’t feel my ACL — I truly thought I was done with the game,” Pillans said.
Luckily for Pillans, his ACL stayed intact. However, the damage to his MCL kept him out the entire season.
He spent time rehabbing and, after being granted a medical redshirt, has one more season of eligibility left at Mesa.
Pillans, a 2016 graduate of Kodiak High School, returned for Mesa’s spring camp and has Aug. 25 circled on the calendar — that is when the Thunderbirds open the season against Phoenix College.
“It is what I think about 85 percent of the day,” Pillans told the Daily Mirror during a recent visit to Kodiak. “Most of my day is based on getting back on the field.”
Pillans said his days start at 4:50 a.m. and is in the gym by 6 a.m. for a two-hour workout. He then spends three hours at EXOS, an elite training center in Phoenix, which is a 30-minute drive from Mesa.
All of the training has paid off as he said he is entering his sophomore season in the best shape of his life.
With the help of a nutrition plan, he has dropped 30 pounds and cut his body fat from 28 percent to 19.
During his time at EXOS, Pillans was able to meet NFL lineman Richie Incognito, who is currently a free agent.
“This is a game of little details and getting to hear those little details from somebody who has mastered them is really big,” Pillans said.
Pillans said his knee felt “fantastic” during spring camp and wasn’t timid at all during the spring game.
“I want to go through the season and not have anything go wrong,” said Pillans, who started several games as freshman and was garnering looks from NCAA Division I schools.
After this season, Pillans — a two-time state discus and shot put champion and the 2016 state championship athlete of the meet — plans on transferring to a four-year school. He said teams from the Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC have expressed interest. His ultimate goal is reach the NFL or play in Canada.
“I want to go to a big school but one of my primary things is looking for a place where I can fit in and play my game,” Pillans said.
Pillans is moving from right to left tackle and is changing from No. 74 to 71.
“I didn’t feel comfortable walking back on to the field with 74 again,” he said. “It wasn’t something that I wanted to do.”
End of Mesa
It was announced in February that this will be the final football season for four Arizona junior college teams — Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Glendale community colleges.
Officials from the Maricopa County Community College District cited financial constraints as the reason for ending football at the four schools.
A petition to keep football at the schools can found here at www.thepetitionsite.com/217/470/637/support-saving-maricopa-community-college-football/