A New Weapon

Just one year removed from making the transition from running back to corner, Tye Hill is now starting to establish himself as weapon on the Clemson defense.

When you hear someone talk about the Clemson secondary this season, Justin Miller is usually the main topic of conversation.

After all, the rising junior was named a freshman All-American in 2002 after leading the team, and the conference in interceptions with eight. In addition, he's also considered one of the top cornerback prospects in the country by many draft analysts.

These days however, there is a new name emerging as a potential star in the Tigers' defensive backfield: cornerback Tye Hill.

It wasn't long ago that Hill was considered one of the future stars on offense as a running back. In fact, he scored the longest rushing touchdown of the season two years ago when he scampered in from 32-yards out against Virginia.

But now he's on the other side of the ball, and after a year of adjusting to life as a cornerback, things appear to be falling into place.

"I know what I'm doing now, and I'm just trying to get better every day," said Hill. "This time last year, I was learning. Now, I'm not just learning, I'm reacting. I think that's been one of the biggest differences in my game."

That improvement has been well-documented by many of the Clemson coaches, and Tommy Bowden in particular. Even though the Tigers have only been through three full practices this year, Hill appears to be a star in the making.

"I am small, I know that, but people need to realize that I want to hit too," said Hill.
"He's been consistent, and he's been making plays for us," said Bowden. "It looks like the light has gone on a little bit and I think he realizes that he has the chance possibly to move on to the next level."

For Hill, playing in the National Football League is a goal that he expects to obtain.

"I know what it takes to get to the next level, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get there," said Hill. "I'm working hard to get there. That's the goal for me."

Part of that goal includes shedding a label that has plagued him in football circles for quite some time. As a "track guy," the junior cornerback has to prove that he can also dish out the big hit with the game on the line.

"I haven't done it yet," said Hill with a laugh. "I remember in the Virginia game last year I thought I hit Heath Miller kind of hard, but when I went back and looked at it on film, it looked like a regular hit. I thought I popped him, but I didn't."

Punishing a 6-foot-7 tight end coming across the middle won't be something Hill will have to deal with every game, but becoming more a physical corner would likely go a long way in establishing himself as a legitimate high round draft pick.

No one can question his speed, as he's been documented as one of the fastest athletes in the country over the course of the past three years.

This year alone, Hill was crowned the ACC outdoor 100m champion and the indoor 60m champion. He was also a significant contributor to Clemson's 2004 outdoor ACC team title and an NCAA Outdoor Qualifier in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.

"I am small, I know that, but people need to realize that I want to hit too," said Hill. "You've got to be able to tackle in order to go the next level, I know that."

CUTigers.com Top Stories