Football Freshman Eager To Learn

A first-year Tiger says he is excited about his upcoming season and talks about the 2002 Auburn team.

Auburn, Ala.--With Jeff Klein gone to The Citadel for his final year of college football and freshman Brandon Cox gone home for "personal reasons," Auburn is down to just four quarterbacks in preseason camp.

Two of the signal callers are freshmen. Early high school graduate Wesley Hill is on scholarship while Josh Sullivan is a walk-on.

Wesley Hill

Hill, who put up big numbers at Georgia's Crisp County High School, is battling Sullivan for the No. 3 spot on the QB rotation behind Jason Campbell and/or Daniel Cobb. Hill, a good all-around athlete, skipped his senior basketball and baseball seasons to come to Auburn early and participate in winter workouts and spring training.

The six-foot-three quarterback has been busy learning Bobby Petrino's offensive system and improving his arm strength.

"I feel like I've gotten a lot better through Coach Yox's program," Hill says. "I am getting stronger throwing the ball. I am working on a lot of things that are helping me as a quarterback. I think that I have gotten better since spring."

Hill isn't as big as Cobb or Campbell, but has solid size for a QB. "I weigh about the same as I did when I got here," he tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I lost some weight when I first got here, but right now I am just working on turning fat into muscle. I am around 212 to 215, but I am more solid right now than I was when I got here."

Hill earned a reputation as being a fierce competitor at Crisp County High where he set a single-season state passing record last fall with 3,351 yards. He was named a Class AAAA first team All-State player as he passed for 27 touchdowns, completing 267-458 passes for a 9-4 team coached by his father, Clay Hill.

The freshman is still relatively inexperienced as a quarterback. He moved to that position from wide receiver as a junior and performed well as the starter, passing for more than 1,800 yards.

Although he is likely to redshirt, Hill says he goes to practice everyday with the mindset that he has to get ready immediately. "I am going to practice like I am trying to win the starting job," he says. "I think if I do that whatever follows, whatever position I fall into, it will be something I earn. I just hope to go out there and compete everyday, try to learn from Jason and Daniel, and get them to help me with things that they know and they have been through."

As someone who has been a part of the Auburn football team since January, he has been able to watch the Tigers try to build chemistry for the 2002 season after a disappointing finish to last year's 7-5 season. "I think we have got a real serious attitude," Hill says. "We have got a bunch of good freshmen who have come in and joined the team. They really get out there and like to work. Our seniors are starting to lead and starting to be more vocal. I think we have got a real good chance to be a good team."

Hill says he is trying to develop into a leader. "I think when you are the quarterback everybody is looking at you so you have got to be a leader. Everybody has got to look up to you. I was always told, ‘How you go is how we go,' so I think that how I play is how everyone else is going to play. I think how I motivate them is what they are going to do."

Hill is a newcomer to the Auburn program, but he has been on campus a little bit longer than his coach, Bobby Petrino, who came to Auburn before spring training started. "I like Coach Petrino's offense," Hill says. "He is a real perfectionist, I guess you could say. He is going to look at every little thing and make you better on every little thing. His scheme is great. We have got a great running back and we are going to run the ball to set up the pass and throw the ball to set up the run. I can't wait to see how it is going to work out."

Petrino believes in challenging the secondary on deep balls, something that quarterbacks normally enjoy doing. Hill is no exception. "I like to throw the ball downfield and I like big plays--I like it a lot," he says with a smile. "And, that is what the fans like to see, too, so I am sure they will love watching us play."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Hill says that Tiger fans will enjoy watching a good group of freshmen wide receivers develop this fall and in years to come. "They are very exciting," he says. "Man, they get out there and they want to learn everyday. All of them have great potential. They are great athletes. We are lucky to have as many as we have and I think a couple of them will be able to play this year. They are real good and I like throwing to them a lot."

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