The Trek up Comeback Mountain Starts for Hill

A slew of Sun Devil newcomers, are not the only ones that will suffer from an overdose of excitement accompanying their first ever collegiate game played. Junior Randy Hill will undoubtedly have those same feelings, as he straps on his maroon and gold uniform for the first time in nearly a year, following a torn ACL suffered in the 2004 Oregon State game.

"Man, I'm excited. I'm just excited to get out there – I can't wait," said an exuberant Randy Hill. "It's been almost a year since I played. I've been thinking about this since I've been hurt. I'm nervous, but anxious at the same time. After that first kickoff, that first hit – I'll be fine."

Hill's 2004 campaign started on a very positive note. His season-high 50 yards on only ten attempts, were instrumental in preserving the win against Northwestern. His lone start of the year, and only the second in his Sun Devil career, ironically came in the same game he also injured his knee. Against the Beavers he came very close to matching his season best, when he collected 47 yards on 16 carries.

His recovery was obviously not a process that was all that smooth. "Some days were real bad and you felt like you couldn't go no more," he explained, "and some days were good, because you had a lot of people telling you to keep your head up." The fact that the running back is a local product that had his family here, aided him immensely during this difficult period. "Right after surgery, my mom was there in rehab with me. I'm a Mama's boy (smile) and she helped me being by my side everyday."

In the beginning of training camp, Hill's role in the running backs group was unclear. Rudy Burgess entrenched himself as the #1 ball carrier, and freshman sensation Keegan Herring seemed well on his way to serve as the backup. Nevertheless, the junior's experience prevailed and after a fine display in Camp T he was named as Burgess' backup to begin the season. After the long road he had to go through, not being named the starter was immaterial to Hill, and failed in comparison with the fact that he has once again become an integral part of ASU's running attack, a facet of the team he hopes everyone will take note of this year.

"My goal is to just go out there and perform the best I can," Hill admitted. "I'm just happy to play and I'm excited to get on the field. Regardless of my knee, I want to come out and contribute. I do want to prove everybody that we do have a running attack. A lot of people don't think we can run the ball, and we want to go out and prove those people wrong."

"I think we have a lot of talent in the running game," Hill continued. "This is an offense that can run and pass the ball. Every week each of the running backs wants to get 100 yards. If Rudy and I can get 100 yards each, and we have great receivers…we'll have a balanced offense. We have the ability to be one of the best offenses in the nation." Hill added that he was confident that the team's offense line, can show that it's much more than just a pass-blocking unit. "Our line is great. It has a lot of talent, experience, size. It's gonna show on Thursday how good they are."

Hill stated that he did learn a great deal by being on the sidelines, watching Burgess and company run the ball. As well as it did serve its purpose, Hill is anxious to enter Frank Kush Field and perhaps give help bring up the several inexperienced ASU running backs on the roster. Not only will those players get to see a solid performer at running back, but they can also gain a valuable lesson in determination and resiliency. "To know where I came from and how hard my rehab was, and knowing I can make it through that," said Hill, "gives me the strength to know that I can get through anything."

On Thursday night the physical and mental obstacles of rehab, will be replaced with opposing defenders. If Randy Hill's degree of success with the former transforms itself between the lines, the steep comeback mountain will be successfully scaled and the running back will just be another dangerous weapon in what is shaping up as one of the best offensive arsenals the team has ever had.

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