NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Even before kicking off the season at Auburn, Arkansas' football program has already posted a big win this weekend.
North Little Rock wide receiver K.J. Hill (6-1, 190, 4.4) – arguably the state's most electric high school player – committed to the Razorbacks on Friday morning during a press conference at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
The four-star prospect chose Arkansas over Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame, Oregon and many others.
"I will be heading to the University of Arkansas," Hill said just seconds into his press conference. "It was very important for me (to stay in state) because I know that I can feel the most comfortable there instead of going somewhere else...That affects my game big-time. I just want to go somewhere that I can play my game."
Hill - whose good friend and fellow four-star recruit Will Gragg was on hand for his announcement - said the Arkansas staff showered him with love - certainly more than the other staffs.
"Coach Bielema and just talking to him," Hill said. "Just having one person from the staff call me every day or DM (direct message on twitter) to call them, they made me feel very wanted. Not any of these (other) schools did that.
"...Really every time I came up on a visit it was like the red carpet was rolled out," Hill added later. "I loved that from my home state."
Hill thinks Gragg - a 6-4, 245-pound tight end from Dumas - will announce for the Razorbacks soon and that Nashville wide receiver LaMichael Pettway (6-4, 200) will flip from Ole Miss to Arkansas and give the Razorbacks a clean sweep of all nine in-state players that have offered.
He talked to all of the offensive coaches right after his press conference.
"They are just so happy and fired up," Hill said. "They said there were high fives going around the table and it just made me feel even more special. I talk to all of them and they just told me congrats and they are ready for me to get up there and start recruiting."
Hill noted he made his decision after visiting Alabama for three days and then Arkansas for three days for unofficial visits in August.
"They told me that my role would be their play maker, their go-to guy, the person that they need in big-time situations," Hill said.
Hill has been compared to former Arkansas star Joe Adams.
"I kind of just try to be like him," Hill said. "That makes me feel special."
He noted that Charleston quarterback and Arkansas pledge Ty Storey was among the Razorback commits who helped him make the decision.
"They all did have an impact - Ty especially," Hill said. "He was always texting me and asking me when we are going to win a state championship. So yeah, that had a big impact."
Hill noted that while he is "firm" in his decision, he will still take all five of his official visits to the aforementioned schools as he also watches Arkansas' progress to cement his decision.
"I want to see how they are going to use the playmakers like JoJo Robinson that is up there now," Hill said. "I want to see the change from last year to this year and how the program is doing."
Hill made it clear that he thinks Arkansas is headed in the right direction.
"I like how Coach Bielema is going to change the program around and I think that I can help build it," Hill said.
It is a huge get for the Razorbacks according to Scout.com national recruiting analyst Scott Kennedy.
“I think it's an important get.... when I think of Arkansas right now, I think of offensive linemen and running backs,” Kennedy said. “Getting someone who can stretch the field will only enhance the strength of the Arkansas team by taking pressure off the running game. Hill is physically capable of playing right away, and I won't be surprised to see him on the field in 2015.”
Kennedy had a chance to watch Hill - the 12th pledge of the 2015 class - up close in July at The Opening – Nike's prestigious camp held in Beaverton, Oregon.
Hill was named the Arkansas Democrat Gazette's Player of the Year in 2013 caught 83 passes for 1,210 yards and 20 touchdowns while piling up 2,071 all-purpose yards and finding the end zone 26 times overall.
“I thought K.J. Hill was one of the most improved players during the week,” Kennedy said. “On Day 1 when I watched him, I noticed him because he had a couple of drops. I think he is one of those players who could benefit the most from the level of competition. By Day 2, he had calmed down and became a go to target for his quarterbacks. He's supremely gifted as an athlete, and though he played receiver at The Opening, I think he could be a terrific defensive back as well.”
Chad Simmons, another Scout.com analyst, offered up this assessment.
“Hill is a wide receiver built like a running back or linebacker,” Simmons said. “He is very physical and he displays that on the playing field. His speed is good down the field, but needs to show more explosiveness. His size and strength help him get off the ball and make it very difficult for corners to jam him to knock him off his route. He adjusts to the ball well and he has shown the ability to make the play in traffic.
“His hands are very strong and he is very consistent in that area,” Simmons said. “He plucks the ball out of the air naturally away from his body. He has the ability to play wide receiver on the outside or work some at slot. He is a yards-after-catch type and that will be where he makes his share of big plays. His ability to break that initial tackle will help him pick up extra yards.”
K.J. Hill's family celebrates and Calls the Hogs after he announces his decision.
Hill had five hats on the table to choose from.
Arkansas ESPN Hall of Fame fan Canaan Sandy and his mom drove to Little Rock to congratualte K.J. Hill.
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