Hill Has Seen It All

Cal defensive tackle Derrick Hill, the former high school prep All-American from nearby McClymonds High School was considered a crown jewel of the 2006 recruiting class. Since then, he has experienced it all, Pac-10 championships, disappointing seasons, a change in position coaches, a change in the base defense, and a suffering injury…

Going through that many highs and lows puts things into perspective. For Derrick Hill, that meant a change in philosophies. Heading into his fifth fall camp, Hill's primary goal is not so big and complex.

"To communicate," says Hill. "Every year, you can always develop better and better communication. I think this year is the best year to communicate. It can help with any aspect, from talking to the coaches, to talking to teammates, to talking on the field."

"Every year, every day, every second, you try to get better at communicating with people. Whether it's to get a point across, or if it's telling people where to line up at the right spot. With this year being my fifth year, I really have to communicate both on and off the field, as a football player and as a leader on this team. I think that with this camp, I've achieved my goal of mentally helping the younger guys out by communicating with them."

While a goal of improved communication is not as sexy of a goal as say, a Rose Bowl berth, it is a necessary step to reach greater heights. After all, Hill's improved communication helped him earn the team's 2009 Frank Schlessinger Coaches Award, which is given for "outstanding athletic ability, academic success, and community service." While Hill's improved ability to communicate has helped him grow overall as a person, he hopes it can translate more than ever to the football field.

"It's just a responsibility of being a leader," says Hill. "There will be times when I will pull Gabe [King] and Ted [Agu] aside, teach them how to do certain things such as better technique. Then, when we come back to a new practice, I'm going to do the same thing, again, but go faster. For example, today I had to pull Gabe aside to show him how to explode out of his stance. It's all about constantly trying to develop your future to be just as good as the present."

Hill's philosophy has not just extended throughout the defensive line, but to the entire team. <> "That's our mentality," says Hill, with a determined look in his eye.

"We want this team to breathe, sweat, and learn everything from how the defensive line plays. When we are out there on that field, we are giving it all our passion and all our heart. I feel like it is my job to make sure that the team sees our work, and just go out there and battle. We take great pride in the team following in our footsteps, and we feel that if we work hard, the team will see that and follow in our footsteps. We are only going to get better that way."

Hill emphasizes that this strong communication will ultimately lead to bigger things. Off the field, Hill teaches technique to the younger guys and wants the team to see his hard work. On the field, as a nose tackle in a 3-4 base, it is Hill's responsibility to be the first line of defense and clog the middle. Communication is just as important, as Hill and his fellow teammates look for any sort of hint as to where the offense will go.

Therefore, while Hill is mired in competition with sophomores Kendrick Payne and Aaron Tipoti, Hill's primary concern is to communicate to his teammates all that he has learned in his four years at Cal.

How his teammates respond is just one key to how successful the 2010 Bears will be.

Thursday Morning Practice News & Notes

  • The team followed their physical Wednesday practice with a helmets-only practice on Thursday morning, the first of the double day. The most significant news was that junior Shane Vereen returned to practice and ran plays with the first team offense, though was not hit by the nature of the practice. Tedford repeated that he hopes Vereen can return to full team activity by Monday.

  • After struggling with field goals resulting in extra gassers on Wednesday, the kickers redeemed themselves on Thursday. Junior Giorgio Tavecchio nailed all three of his attempts at the end of practice, from 27, 31, 37, and 44 yards.

  • Tedford also stated that much of the two-deep has come together, and that more of it should be finalized after Monday's practice, which will also act as a simulation of game-like circumstances. Tedford again emphasized that many of the freshman will be on the two-deep, including linebacker David Wilkerson, linebacker Nick Forbes, tight end Jacob Wark, and all of the wide receivers. Earlier this week, Tedford stated that freshman Keenan Allen is in line to start, and junior D.J. Holt and senior Keith Browner are in line to start at outside linebacker.

  • At the cornerback position, Tedford stated that freshman Steve Williams has an opportunity to earn a starting spot. In order to do so, Tedford stated that Williams must "make plays, stay consistent, and tackle better." Tedford is very pleased with the progress of the cornerbacks through fall camp, citing improvement from seniors Darian Hagan and Bryant Nnabuife. But, in particular, Tedford raved about sophomore Marc Anthony, stating that he had a great Wednesday practice.
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