Mission, faith help shape Dallas Lloyd into team leader

Mission, faith help shape Dallas Lloyd into team leader

If you take a drive down the 800 block of El Camino Real, it’s impossible to miss the massive billboard at the road’s intersection with Galvez Street. On the billboard these days are close-up shots of four Cardinal football players in a row, uniformed but helmetless, their intense expressions obligating passersby to, as the billboard advertises, buy their season tickets for Stanford home games.

Working right to left, you have Solomon Thomas, expected to be the rock of the Cardinal’s defense this upcoming season; Michael Rector, the Cardinal’s primary returning wide receiver; Heisman finalist Christian McCaffrey, the face of Stanford football after becoming the spark of the offense; and on the far left, rising fifth-year senior, safety Dallas Lloyd.

Lloyd may appear to be the odd one out on this billboard. While he was the team’s primary strong safety last season and played in all 14 games, he’s not as lethal on defense as Thomas, not as dominant or illustrious as McCaffrey (though no one really is) and probably not as well-known as Rector.

Beyond the billboard, Lloyd is used to being the odd one out on the team itself. He’s a Mormon, the only married player on the team and a former missionary who spent two years in Chile before coming to Stanford.

But it’s those very idiosyncrasies that have shaped him into the football player he is today, someone who deserves to be up on that billboard.

Most of the 11,000 football players across the 128 FBS schools follow a similar path: Get recruited, sign with a school, show up to college the summer after you graduate from high school to prepare for the fall football season and, if you’re lucky, earn some playing time right off the bat.

A small fraction of these players — 147 from last year’s FBS teams — deviate from this norm: They put their football careers on hold and went on two-year missions before heading off to college.

The vast majority of these former missionaries go to school at BYU, Utah State or Utah, though 11 of them play at Pac-12 schools (specifically Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona and Arizona State). Six of the 147 former missionaries are in school out in California, and three of those six — rising junior Brandon Fanaika, rising sophomore Sean Barton and Lloyd — are at Stanford.

Unlike that of other schools that were recruiting him, Stanford’s coaching staff was supportive of Lloyd’s decision to spend two years on a mission before arriving at the Farm; thus, while Lloyd, recruited as a quarterback, was part of the 2010 signing class, he wouldn’t come to Stanford until 2012.

Read more at The Sanford Daily (lead image from The Sanford Daily)

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