LB LeRoy Hill
Hill was ranked as the #38 player in Georgia by SuperPrep coming out of high school. He was a 5A All-state pick in his junior and senior seasons and was named the defensive player-of-the-year in his region. Hill played during his first year at Clemson as a true freshman and led the Tigers in tackles during the season finale against Duke.
Nobody knew going into the 2003 season just the type of linebacker LeRoy Hill could be, but after a season that saw him finish second in the country in tackles for loss (27), there's little question that he's one of the top returning defenders in the ACC. While he may be undersized, he uses his unparalleled quickness to attack the ball carrier and force the action.
Hill led the Tigers in tackles with 145 and in tackles for loss with 27 during the 2003 regular season. His tackles for loss total led the ACC and ranked in the top three in the nation. In 2004, Hill will attempt to become the fourth player in Clemson history to lead the country in that same category. Hill is looking to become the fourth defensive player from Clemson to lead the nation in tackles for loss. William Perry became the first to achieve the feat when he averaged 2.45 per game as a senior in 1984. Rob Bodine, an All-American in 1991, led the nation that year with 27 tackles for loss. In 1999, sophomore linebacker Keith Adams led the nation and established a school record with 35 tackles for loss.
With the losses of John Leake, DeJuan Polk, and Donnell Washington, the Tigers will be looking for leaders on defense headed into fall practice. When asked about stepping more into a leadership role in 2004, Hill responded, "I'm a leader by example. Show a person behind me what to do, or show a guy beside me what to do. I'm not really a big talker, but I try to lead by example and make plays and then try to help my teammates out."
When asked about his goals last season, Hill said that most important thing to him is winning football games. "That's all I want right now," said Hill. "I really haven't been looking at myself like that. I come out, do my job, play assignment football, and win games. Of course, everyone wants to get a winning interception or a winning sack, and I dream about stuff like that. But that's about it.
"You'd sure like to see him pick up where he left off at last fall. He's a very instinctive player," said linebackers' coach David Blackwell. "He plays down hill and he's extremely aggressive which gives him the opportunity to make a lot of plays. He had two pretty good football players in from of him last year in DeJuan Polk and Donnell Washington, and obviously that helps him out when they were playing well. He also had John Leake last year, which helped him out a lot. Now he's got at least one young guy playing beside him, and at least one young guy up front and Eric Coleman has to raise his level of play, so I think there are some question marks there that we will have to figure out.
Hill plays off the success of his defensive linemen, so it will obviously be important for both Eric Coleman and Trey Tate to get off to a strong start in 2004 if he's going to duplicate his production of a year ago. At the same time, his motor never stops, and his speed and quickness should enable him to become a playmaker once again in defensive coordinator John Lovett's scheme.