One Kansas State football player has always looked for ways to come into people’s lives and impact them in a way that could help change their lookout on life. From day one, junior offensive lineman Dalton Risner has touched the lives of people through his kindness and community outreach.
From a young age, Risner didn’t just want football in his life. He looked for ways to begin impacting people by speaking at schools, writing a note to provide a smile and his newest venture: reaching out to individuals through social media.
The two-time team captain first started this endeavor by making a YouTube channel, but shortly found out that could later impact his eligibility within the NCAA. With that roadblock, Risner looked for another way to begin his journey that he believed had massive potential.
“There was a kicker at the University of Central Florida who started a YouTube series, but it ended up getting so big time that he started running into issues with eligibility because college athletes are not supposed to be paid through services like that,” Risner said. “I don’t know the full story, but I do know he ended up resigning from the football team. … I could [make] a YouTube channel right now as long as it stayed low key, but I figured it could have the possibility to get big. I just wanted to stay away from the drama and the mess because I didn’t want to have eligibility issues.”
Upon K-State’s win against UCLA in the 2017 Cactus Bowl, Risner officially announced he would be returning for the 2018-2019 season for one more year with the Wildcats to exercise his last year of eligibility in the NCAA.
With high aspirations, Risner has always looked to inspire those who needed to be inspired. He soon realized that he had been given so much more than a purple jersey with a Powercat on it, and began thinking about ways to give back to communities that were in dire need of inspiration with his public platform he had just earned.
During Risner’s high school years, he made a name for himself at Wiggins High School out in Wiggins, Colorado. In the 2013 season, Risner was named one of the Denver Post’s top-25 players in the state and was an all-state selection in 2012. In addition to those collections, Risner was also named the nation’s fifth-best player in the state and the sixth-best center in the nation by Rivals.com. For ESPN, Risner was also ranked as the nation’s seventh-best center.
Being able to go back home and give to the community Risner grew up in is something that has been at the top of his list. Catching up with faculty and speaking to students was something he wanted to do. He got to do just that when he went and spoke at his alma mater on March 19.
“I have never really had a serious conversation with the students at the high school,” Risner said. “I think that it was really cool because I was able to tell them that I was once in their chair and some advice that I could’ve used while sitting there.
“I think they looked up to me because I play college football, and not many people from Wiggins do that,” Risner continued. “But, I got to speak to them about having pride in themselves and what they’re doing. I talked about hard work and how to make their dreams come true. If there’s one thing we all have in common in this world, it’s that we all dream.”
The idea of being able to exercise a mobile platform came through after he was able to see the impact he did on people after live events. Risner has previously traveled to talk about being on the K-State football team in middle schools around Manhattan. Risner knew it was time to expand.
“About six weeks leading up to the first video, I had always done speaking at pep rallies at middle schools around town and speaking on behalf of the K-State football team, everyone told me, ‘Hey we really like what you have to say,’ and social media comments also came in,” Risner said. “Everyone just kept telling me they love what I have to say and that I inspired them. I have always been thinking about ways to reach out to the Manhattan community and my community back home in Wiggins. … I figured that social media was just kind of a way to reach out and expand. It was a long time coming, and I finally got courage to just finally put myself on camera and get it going.”
Being it is the 21st century, Risner said he realized that there was so much more to do on social media to reach out to people that didn’t involve YouTube. Shortly, he made the move over to Facebook so he could begin conducting Facebook Lives and record general videos.
“The very first one on Facebook got about 10,000 views,” Risner said. “Every other one since then has been about 3,000 to 6,000. … I still think that’s really cool those people turn in to see me talk, and then it gives me the opportunity to see if i can impact some of them, which I really do enjoy that.
“The impact I’ve been able to provide on people and has been proved by their messages that they send me after the steam ends telling me so,” Risner continued.
Although they have just begun, Risner has already fallen in love with the videos and has already been branding them apart of his “Rise Up” series.
“I love the videos; they’re going well and people like them, but at the same time I am trying to find ways to keep people interested and bring more in, trying to find out how to successfully keep them going,” Risner said. “Once that ‘Rise Up’ platform grows, I hope I can put it on signs when I to go to camps, have a shirt on when I go speak and just be able to have a brand behind and have people know what it means. It is the beginning stages of something that could never be big or something that could be really cool and expand.
“If I can impact one person and help them get through something tough, that means the most to me,” Risner continued. “If I can put a smile on people’s faces, then I am going to continue doing the videos, regardless the amount of views.”
Being only 22 years old, Risner has looked forward to becoming a role model. Being a role model means so much more to him than a name and a position on a football team, he said.
“I was always that kid when I was younger that I looked up to so many people, and being a role model, well, that’s been my goal forever,” Risner said. “I especially want to do that with my hometown back in Wiggins. I know what I went through during my high school years, and I don’t want to be that guy that brushes them off or doesn’t give back. I want to be a role model and someone that people look up to for those kids. I want people to know me as the guy that hangs out and passes the ball with them.”
As he gets closer to leaving K-State, Risner has begun to look forward to the future of what will happen once he hangs up his K-State jersey for the last time.
Going into the National Football League is something that Risner has thought about since he began playing football. But Risner said he doesn’t just want football out of the lifetime that lies ahead of him.
“My ultimate goal is to play in the NFL as long as I can to make enough money to travel the world and be a public speaker to put on events,” Risner said. “I would like to do charity events for free, whether it be camps or me going down to schools. I would want to talk about faith and football and how those two end up intertwining into my journey and everything. I would like to use my platform so I can speak to people and give back. I want to use my football platform to impact as many people as I can. That is my number one goal.”
When it comes to the NFL, Risner could only think of one role model he has continuously looked up to and enjoyed seeing what happened with the individual and how he used his platform.
“I don’t look up to very many people, to be honest, but Tim Tebow has truly been the only NFL player I have looked up to,” Risner said. “I know he doesn’t play anymore, and I know theres a lot of great players out there, but I idolized him and the way he used his platform. He wasn’t fake; it was all real, and he was also good at football. That’s my man.”
Risner’s series can be found on his personal Facebook page. He conducts one live video per week to answer questions, and another recorded video for weekly content that is apart of his “Rise Up” series. As the series expands, Risner said he looks forward to interacting with new viewers that are set to come.