Following in friend’s footsteps, former Cowboy pitched McNeese to Willis-Dalton

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Following in some pretty big footsteps, Amaud Willis-Dalton showed up on the McNeese State campus looking to make an impact.

The transfer from Houston is not the first Cougar to join the Cowboys in search of more playing time and a fresh start.

Isaiah Chambers did just that for two seasons, earning all-American honors for his work at defensive end. Chambers left an impression on McNeese when he exited at the end of last season.

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So it only made sense that when Willis-Dalton went looking for a new football home after last season he should ask his former Houston teammate.

“Yeah, I talked to him about it,” Willis-Dalton said. “He had great things to say about the school and town.”

Following in big footsteps is nothing new for the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder who has been doing so all his life on the football field.

His father Lional “Jellyroll” Dalton played linebacker for eighth seasons in the NFL on five teams, winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens (2000).

“Football has always been a part of my life,” Willis-Dalton said. “It is a great game to play.”

At Houston, Willis-Dalton wasn’t getting the amount of playing time he wanted despite getting in 11 games last fall. So he looked around, got some advice from Chambers, and came to McNeese despite a new coach.

In fact, he came because of the new coach.

“I know coach (Gary) Goff and the culture he is creating here,” Willis-Dalton said. “I’m here to help build that.

“He is here to build us as men just not to win games. He talks to us about other things and makes sure we are doing things the right way.”

For Goff, getting Willis-Dalton, was a big win in the offseason.

“He is a terrific defensive player who really gets after the ball,” Goff said. “He makes plays and can chase down runners. He makes an impact in the game.”

Willis-Dalton had a good first showing last week for the Cowboys. He finished with eight tackles, including a sack, to match fellow linebacker Kordell Williams’ team-high numbers against No. 4 Montana State.

“I think we can do better as we get used to each other and the system,” Willis-Dalton said. “We made some plays, but not enough.”

Defensive end Mason Kinsey, who played on the other side of the line from Chambers, loves having another former Cougar in the huddle with him.

“Amaud lining up behind us is a good thing to know,” Kinsey said. “He makes a lot of tackles back there. He can run guys down if they get by us.”

This week Willis-Dalton will return to Houston when McNeese travels Saturday night to play Rice. It will be a chance for him to put on a show back home.

“It is great to have the opportunity to play back in front of family and friends,” Willis-Dalton said. “I know they are going to be there for me and are excited to watch us play.”

When asked how many tickets he needed, Willis-Dalton said they have to let him know by Thursday.

“That’s when we turn in our requests,” he said. “After that, they are on their own.”

One guy who will be watching is Chambers, who said is looking forward to seeing his former Cougars teammate along with his McNeese pals.

Just more footsteps to follow for Willis-Dalton.