Senior Bowl: KJ Hill Working to Show Coaches He’s a Winner

K.J. Hill Touchdown Ohio State Football

Former Ohio State wide receiver KJ Hill is one of six Buckeyes invited to the Senior Bowl this year. Joining Hill in Saturday’s game will be teammates Jonah Jackson, DaVon Hamilton, Malik Harrison, and Austin Mack. Damon Arnette has since had to pull out due to injury.

Even more important than the game, however, is the week of practices leading up to it. With more reps to track over the next few days, scouts and coaches can gain a much better understanding of what each player brings to the table.

And so far after watching KJ Hill, they are seeing a receiver who is adept at getting open.

“Its going good,” Hill said down in Mobile, Alabama on Tuesday. “Just blessed with the opportunity to be here around all these great guys. Some of the top guys in the country are around here, so I’m just glad that I can be in it with them ready to compete.”

Hill finished up his Ohio State career last month as the school’s all-time receptions leader with 201 catches. Those 201 receptions produced 2,332 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns.

Hill believes his production is proof of his abilities, which is why he is focused this week on showing coaches more than just his ability to catch passes.

“I just want to show coaches that I’m a winner,” he said. “I love winning. I’m a competitor and I’m a tough guy. Receiver wise, they know what I can do. I just want them to see the other side of me.”

And while Hill believes his production speaks for itself, he’s found that it doesn’t mean so much down in Mobile. Instead, the coaches and scouts want to see production this week, and then they will formulate their most meaningful thoughts on Hill.

While he understands that thought process, he also has confidence that his days at Ohio State have made him ready for this week.

“People look at it as just a stat, but guys at Ohio State, fans at Ohio State, they know the guys the come out of there, the legends that played here on that same leaderboard, and I’m number one on it,” he said. “So the guys [at the Senior Bowl] would overlook that, they’ll be like ‘oh-okay,’ but I know in my head, and with high confidence, knowing my production and what I can do, so its just going out there and putting it on the field.”

Having his production overlooked and his talents questioned is nothing new, and at this point Hill has come to expect it.

“It definitely drives me,” he said. “I just want to stand out and make a name for myself. I’ve seen guys do it. Terry McLaurin, guys like that. That definitely drives me.”

One year ago, former Buckeye receiver Terry McLaurin was a late addition to the Senior Bowl. Upon his arrival, however, he quickly showed that he belonged. He was one of the top receivers of the week and turned his performance into a tremendous audition. McLaurin ended up being a third-round selection by the Washington Redskins and eventually made the Pro Football Writers’ All-Rookie team following a 2019 where he caught 58 passes for 919 yards and seven touchdowns.

McLaurin saw what this week did for him, which is why he wanted to get KJ Hill up to speed on everything that he was going to experience.

“He called me,” Hill said. “He Facetimed me telling me what its gonna be like, ins and out on everything, what to look for, just giving me advice like he always did ever since I’ve known Terry.”

It was clear that at least some of that advice was helpful, as there were numerous clips of Hill embarrassing defenders during the first practices on Tuesday.

Hill is also using his experience playing with different starting quarterbacks throughout his career to help him while he works with different quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl.

“I always had the mindset that I make the quarterback right even if its a low ball, hard ball, high ball,” he said. “I just try to make the quarterback right and catch everything. I just want to be reliable and consistent.”

Those who have watched his career at Ohio State know that consistency and reliability have never been a problem.

From the clips below, it appears the NFL is finally getting a first-hand look at what KJ Hill can do.

And what he’s doing so far is a whole bunch of winning.