Hill the Thrill
Ohio State redshirt sophomore receiver K.J. Hill was one of the brighter spots of the spring for the Buckeyes. Splitting reps at H-back with fourth-year junior Parris Campbell, Hill showed his coaches that he is going to be very involved in the offense this season.
What exactly did he do to catch everyone’s eye?
“Probably just ballin’ out,” Hill said this spring. “Got my confidence back. It’s my third year here. I’m a veteran now, so it’s time to go. I expected to be one of the leaders in the room as far as talking more and being more vocal and getting guys going. Bringing younger guys up. For myself, establishing myself as a playmaker. When you come in from high school the game is faster so you’ve got to adjust to that and learn how to read defenses and changes your routes. Everything has slowed down for me. That’s what experience brings.”
Last season was Hill’s first on the field for the Buckeyes, and he spent most of it in the slot at H-back. That can be a difficult transition for receivers or running backs to make, but Hill took to it pretty quickly.
“I used to play running back in high school,” he said. “I can do that, I can go outside, I can do anything. That’s how I feel. Just wherever the best fit in this offense is for me, I’ll go.”
The Buckeyes found K.J. Hill in Arkansas, which is not normally a recruiting area that Ohio State focuses on. Their interest in Hill was due in large part to former assistant Chris Ash, who was recruiting Hill while he was an assistant at Arkansas.
Urban Meyer was asked recently to name the areas of the country outside of Ohio that OSU focuses on when it comes to recruiting. While Ohio State is both a regional and a national brand, the Buckeyes have a couple of areas where Meyer knows they can go in and have some success.
“If you look, we keep very close tabs on where we have had success,” he said. “The northeast is one, then you have Florida and you have Texas, and Georgia. To say one over the other, you always like to take care of your three-to-four-hundred-mile radius around you. But we’ve had great success in the state of Florida and the state of Texas, so we’re going to continue that.”
To illustrate Urban Meyer’s point, the Ohio State secondary in 2017 will feature players from Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, Georgia, Virginia, and Ohio. Many of those players are currently freshmen who experienced their first spring camp as Buckeyes.
The learning process is different for everyone, but as defensive coordinator Greg Schiano explained, the sooner the rookies realize that they don’t have all of the answers, the better they get at the questions.
“The speed of the game is so different,” he said. “The pure volume of defense and of techniques is different, and then the accountability to execute those techniques. You know in high school, you can get away with just being a great athlete. You can do it the way you’re coached or maybe you can do it another way and still get away with it.
“Here, the people they’re going against are so good that if they don’t do it exactly the way they’re instructed, it’s hard to be successful. So they find out very quickly that you know you need to get into a ritual or a routine to be an effective player, and when you don’t, you’re all over the map.”