BOSTON (AP) — Boston College running back AJ Dillon was the talk of the Atlantic Coast Conference before last season.

Named the preseason player of the year after winning the league's rookie of the year in 2017, Dillon was ready to take off in his second season with the Eagles.

An ankle injury taught him a lot more about himself than he could have imagined.

"Honestly, it's weird to say, but I do feel like the injury was a blessing in disguise," Dillon said Tuesday. "I felt like it taught me a lot about, obviously I'm not invincible. You've got to protect your body."

It even brought him back to reality, a bit.

"I would say last year was a humbling experience," he said. "I came onto the scene freshman year. I ended up with the ACC rookie of the year, those kinds of accolades, things like that going into last season."

Before last season, the hype was building around BC's campus. The 6-foot, 250-pound Dillon was being touted as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate.

The talk was a lot for him to handle.

"Just being 100 percent truthful," he said. "Those kinds of things, to be a sophomore at the time, those kinds of things you hear them all: the Heisman this, the Heisman that. Those kinds of things — not that they got to me or changed anything mentally — I felt like I kind of just consumed it a little bit too much and felt invincible."

Then, after rushing for 652 yards, Dillon hurt his left ankle early in the second half of the fifth game of the season, missed the next two and finished with 1,108 yards.

He never felt the same. The power was there, at times. The speed was diminished.

"This camp I've been trying to go 100 percent every day," he said. "I honestly couldn't play my kind of football at all during the regular season after the injury."

Boston College coach Steve Addazio knows how important Dillon is to the team's success and figures to watch his workload. If he's healthy, Addazio's team may finally get past seven wins, its total in six of his seven seasons at the school.

"I think we will monitor it," he said. "There are going to be games where he's going to just — you know, if he's healthy, he's going to carry a huge load. That's what great tailbacks do, but we will be conscious and pick and choose."

Coming off a freshman season when he piled up nearly 1,600 yards in 13 games, Dillon wants to carry BC to bigger things this season.

"My goal is always to be the best on the field no matter who I'm out there with," he said.