Monday, July 23, 2007
Updated: July 24, 11:55 AM ET
ESPN 150 ATH Will Hill has plenty of options
By Jamar Hudson
For the past 17 years, Will Hill has grown up in the shadow of New York City across the Hudson River in the Jersey City-West Orange area.
On a daily basis, he has experienced what most northern New Jersey residents have grown accustomed to.
The fast-paced lifestyle. The snarling traffic. The winter weather. The Sopranos.
Now, 17 years later, Hill is ready to get out.
"I want to go to a warm climate," Hill said. "I want to see more of the world."
Hill's exodus from the Garden State shouldn't be hard as the No. 2-rated prospect in the 2008 ESPN 150 will most certainly have his choice of destinations. The safety/athlete prospect from St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City is one of the most highly recruited players in the nation.
Whether it's his 4.5 40-yard dash speed or the fact he patterns his game after Washington Redskin Sean Taylor, Hill is a hard-hitting safety defensive coaches dream about. At 6-foot-3, 203-pounds, he has the ability to match up with speedy wideouts if necessary and is a headhunter with a great motor. With a nose for the ball and great instincts in coverage, he times hits well, is always around the ball and fills the lane in run support.
However, not only does Hill star on the defensive side of the ball, he's found success as a quarterback, wide receiver and kick returner. As a junior, Hill completed 58-percent of his passes and threw for 758 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 682 yards and 15 touchdowns on his way to being named New Jersey Offensive Player of the Year.
Hill, among the first 40 players selected to the inaugural ESPNU High School All-American game in January, has narrowed his choices down to eight schools -- USC, Florida, Florida State, Penn State, Virginia, Maryland, Miami and Michigan.
This past weekend, Hill visited Florida's "Friday Night Lights", Urban Meyer's one night camp which is becoming one of the most attended events by top national prospects.
And while the future sports management major doesn't have a timetable on his decision, Hill expects to weigh his options with his coach and family. He says it doesn't matter what particular defensive scheme the school runs, he just wants to get out on the field and contribute.
"I'm just going to go visit each school and talk to everyone from the coaches down to the players," Hill said. "In the end, I'm just going to go where my heart is."
Rich Hansen, head coach at St. Peter's, has been though the recruiting process many times before, since every year his players are some of the most sought-after recruits in the state of New Jersey. Hansen has helped Hill with everything from working out to fielding calls and handling letters from colleges. But with today's recruiting process, Hansen says it's easy for players and coaches to get caught up and forget to focus on the now, rather than the future.
"Recruiting has never been as busy as it is now," Hansen said. "I have to remember my responsibility to (Hill) is to coach him. He's my player, not my recruit."
For Hill, before college comes, there's unfinished business at St. Peter's as he hopes to follow up last year's state championship game appearance with another one this season. Hill has been training since January in preparation and anticipation for his senior season. But no matter how much offseason training takes place, nothing replaces the one-on-one competition he'll face once the season starts.
|Will Hill has his pick among many of the nation's elite football schools.|
And as one of the state's top prospects, he knows opposing teams will be gunning for him.
"If I'm on everyone's mind, that will give my teammates an opportunity to shine," Hill said. "When I'm out there, I'm not worrying about anything but the game. My main focus is winning a championship."
Jamar Hudson is a recruiting editor for ESPN.com.