With every movement, Hillis showed no hesitation. He confidently darted up the bleachers — often ahead of his teammates — and didn't favor his right leg in any way.
In fact, Hillis' right thigh, which kept him out of Arkansas' final four games last season, is feeling stronger than ever.
Just like the rest of his body.
"I'm the strongest I've ever been," Hillis said. "I'm the fastest I've ever been. I healed real good in the offseason. My body has come back to where I wanted it to."
This spring, Hillis exhibited that the injury to his right leg was behind him, that he could return to being a consistent blocking and pass-catching threat.
Since then, Hillis has proven to his teammates and strength coach Don Decker that he's ready to increase his role in offensive coordinator David Lee's system.
"It took (him) about a month into the offseason to get that full range of motion and get comfortable with full-out sprints," Decker said. "But once he gained confidence and knew when he put that foot on the ground that there wasn't going to be that sharp and severe pain that anybody would back off of, he's been unbelievable."
Some might argue that Hillis' injury directly related to Arkansas' late-season demise.
The Razorbacks started the season 10-1. The last victory was an emphatic 31-14 home win over Tennessee, but in that game, Hillis took a vicious hit to his right thigh.
Afterward, the fullback's thigh swelled. Instead of healing, large deposits of calcium appeared on the thigh. Hillis could barely walk.
Time, and only time, was the answer.
"It went away on its own," Hillis said. "Just running on it kind of dissolves it away."
Once the pain subsided entirely, some time in February, Hillis immediately embarked on a spring and summer full of weight lifting and conditioning.
The Conway native and senior-to-be wanted to get bigger. He wanted to get quicker. He wanted to get faster. And through it all, he wasn't worried about his weight.
"He fluctuates between 235 and 240," Decker said.
Hillis was purely concerned with fine-tuning his muscles so that he would improve every facet of his game. In doing so, Hill could give Lee reasons to use him in even more ways than last year.
He already has shown the ability to singlehandedly open holes for Arkansas running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. He already has flashed NFL-required hands in catching passes. And, he even spent time returning punts last season.
But now, Hillis figures to see expanded tasks this fall.
All this, of course, would come on top of his leadership duties, the type he tapped into Friday morning by encouraging his teammates up the bleachers.
"That's a role the senior class has to play," Hillis said. "We had some weak guys coming in, but the more you get on them, the more that you get on their back, the more they'll want to step up."
Hillis Stronger Than Ever
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
TCU vs Iowa State primerAfter falling in double-overtime to Arkansas, TCU looks to get back to their winning ways against Iowa State.
Horned Frog Insider09/15/2016
The Ultimate Midlands TeamThere is a lot of talent in the Midlands region, with a vast majority of the highest rated recruits playing high school football in the Lone Star State. Which prospects made the…
These rival helmet color swaps are revoltingSwapping rival teams' helmet colors? It shouldn't have been done, but someone did it anyway.
Post-July 2017 Top 100 Player RankingsWith the July evaluation periods, Nike Skills Academy, adidas Nations and Under Armour's Elite 24 over, Scout's basketball recruiting team has updated the 2017 top 100. DeAndre…