The Thrill Stays in Tempe

If you climbed onto the roof at Tempe's McClintock High School on a clear day, you could probably see Sun Devil Stadium or at the least the buttes it sits between. That's how close running back Randy Hill's high school is to the Sun Devil campus. While Hill's signing with the Devils hardly came as a surprise; it wasn't a slam-dunk either.

"(Former ASU coach) Bruce Snyder started recruiting me my sophomore year." Recalls the former Charger who was named the Co-Region Player of the Year in Arizona, and the Runner-up State Player of the Year. "I had fun going to some of the ASU Football games that year. It was way early in the recruiting process, and they were the first school to offer me. When the coaches changed at ASU, I wasn't sure in the beginning if I wanted to go there, but after I started talking to coach Koetter and the other coaches it was cool…The first coach I really talked to from ASU (after Koetter was hired) was coach Nordquist. He was pretty straight forward with me, and we had a very good relationship where we can joke around. When I decided to go to ASU, it was a plus that he's the running backs coach there."

Randy Hill, who was listed in the postseason by SuperPrep as the No. 19 running back in the nation, took only one additional visit aside from ASU. While PAC-10 foes Washington and Cal also showed interest in him, Hill actually chose Missouri as his second school to trip to. The two official visits were hard to equate to each other. "The ASU trip was real close to home, and they really didn't show anything I already didn't see. In Missouri everything was new to me. It's really hard to compare trips, because everyone is doing the same things on the trips – they just wine and dine you, and stuff like that. You also talk to teachers and hang out with the players. I guess if you like one trip better than another, it just depends what kind of person you are, and what type of things you like."

Living in the same metropolitan as ASU, Hill got a more up and close personal look at the Sun Devils than other 2002 signees who hail outside of Phoenix. However, witnessing a disappointing 4-7 season didn't faze the first-team all-city and all-East Valley player. "I knew ASU had a tough year, but they also had a young team. I thought I could come here and help them turn it around. I just feel that all us young players will get better in the future, and the team will be better and recognized nationally. This program is gonna turn around real soon, and when it does I want to be part of it." Another factor that aided the incoming freshman's decision to attend ASU was naturally the location. "I wanted to stay close to home. Having the support of my family and friends is real important to me." It has been noted several times in the past that Hill wanted to attend the same school as his McClintock teammate safety Andre Bailey. The running back is glad to have a familiar face on his new team. "It's a plus to have somebody on the team that you went to school with, but it really wouldn't matter if he wasn't coming to ASU. It's cool that it worked out for both of us, but I know that if it worked out better for me to go to Missouri I would have gone there. I'm happy that we're both in a situation that worked out for both of us."

As a senior, the winner of the Whizzer White (who's number has been retired by ASU) Award rushed for a McClintock High School record 2,330 yards (third best in the state). He averaged 9.7 yards a carry (another school record) and ran for 36 touchdowns. In addition, he added 17 receptions for 247 yards and three touchdowns to his senior year stats. His 220 points led all Arizona high school players last year. With all these accolades, no one would blame Hill if he didn't list any faults in his game. Nevertheless, Hill is realistic about his skills, and displaying them at the college level. "I did have an advantage in high school because I was a real big running back, and I was as big as the other team's linebackers. I'm fast too (runs a 4.45), so being big and fast is a plus. But I know I need to work on my speed and strength, because in college everybody will be stronger and faster. I have good vision - I see my holes well, and I hit them real fast." His 6-1 stature is somewhat rare for a running back, a position that usually requires a low center of gravity, and the Arizona Republic's All-Arizona player downplays his physical attribute. "Being a tall running back doesn't take away from my quickness, but it doesn't really give me an advantage. It comes down to talent. You have a lot of running backs playing on your team that have the same talent, and the players on the defense you're playing against are talented too. It just about using your talent and making plays."

Analyzing ASU's depth chart, the running back position is full of young players. How does Hill, who won the state finals in the 200 meters, and the 4x100 relay, view his chances of making an early impact with the Sun Devils? "I don't think it makes a difference for me that they're a lot of young running backs on the team. All that matters is how hard you work in practice. If my work effort is harder than the other running backs, then I should play. If their work effort is harder than mine, than they deserve to play over me. I guess it's a plus that only one running back on the team has experience, because the rest really don't know what to expect out there. But it comes down to how bad you want it and how hard you're willing to work for it." When we asked him about redshirting he replied: "The coaches never told me if they expect me to redshirt or not. I can't really imagine sitting out for a while year and not playing. I'm not really down with redshirting (smile)."

Whether he plays as a true or redshirt freshman, Hill's excited to be part of coach Koetter's explosive offense. While his main role will involve carrying the ball, Hill isn't worry about being part of the fiery passing attack that has become a staple of ASU's offense under the current coaching reign. "Coach Koetter throws a lot, but he also involves the running backs in the passing game, so it's not like you won't be part of the offense if you're a running back. I can catch the ball well too, so I know I'll fit in fine." During these scorching summer days the former local high school star is spending his time in the off-season conditioning program. Hill is enjoying getting closely acquainted with his teammates. "I started working out with the team a couple of weeks ago. It's real cool, and everybody is real supportive. It's great being in a fun atmosphere. It's hard work, but that's what you have to do to be in shape for the season."

Throughout his high school career, Randy Hill has easily lived up to his nickname - "Thrill". If he transforms his talents to the bigger and brighter stage that is roughly five miles away from his now old home field, he will undoubtedly go down as one of ASU's most prolific running backs of all times. And for ASU fans there's nothing sweeter than watching a local high school star stay home and enjoy great success sporting the maroon and gold.

Name

Randy Hill

High School

McClintock HS, Tempe, AZ

Position

RB (Played LB and CB too)

Height

6-1

Weight

198

Date of Birth

4/21/84

Hometown

Phoenix, AZ

Nickname

Thrill

Favorite TV Show

The Simpsons

Favorite Movie

Menace To Society

Favorite Singer

Nas

Favorite Food

Chicken

Favorite Drink

Dasani Water

Favorite Athlete

Steve Young

Favorite Pro Team

San Francisco 49ers

Person you most admire

My parents. They never missed any game that I was involved in.

First Football Memory

I played Flag Football when I was 8. We were undefeated, and we lost in the championship game. It really hurt back then.

One Thing most people don't know about me

I write poetry.

Why did you choose ASU?

Being close to home.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

I want to own my own business. I started my own clothing line with my friends. I know Andre Bailey wants to do that too. I guess we'll be competitors (smile).

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