As a senior, he earned first-team All-ACC and All-America honors at cornerback and was also a finalist for the Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back. Last year, he was the 15th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. As a rookie, he played in all 16 games and had three interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Now, he comes into his second NFL training camp with high expectations, both for himself and for his team.
CUTigers recently caught up with him from Rams training camp and here's what he had to say:
How do you look back on your time at Clemson?
Hill: I thought it was a great experience. There's nothing like it as far as the gameday atmosphere, the fans and the crowd. It was just a great time in my life.
You have another fellow Tiger with you in training camp in Dustin Fry. Since he's a rookie and you've got a year under your belt, do you plan on helping ease his transition?
Hill: I try and help him out a little bit. My main focus right now is coming to camp, learning my playbook and trying to get things done on the field. I want to contribute every week. Nothing has really come up thus far. But eventually, they will and I will have no problem showing him the ropes.
Do you plan on getting back to Clemson for a game this year?
Hill: I definitely want to come back and check out a game. I haven't even looked at the schedule yet, but hopefully I will be able to come back. I watch Clemson games almost every week. When I have home games, since they are usually on ESPN or another network, I get to watch them. But if we're on the road, Saturday is when we travel and it's sometimes hard to see them play on those days.
Hill: I know what to expect this year. I know the playbook pretty well now. It's just a grind for me now. Last year, it was more about adjusting to everything both mentally and physically. It's really been better this year than it was last year.
What has the biggest adjustment you had to make on the field as an NFL player?
Hill: I would say that the talent that I go up against every week was the biggest adjustment for me to the NFL. In college, some weeks, you would go up against good receivers and some weeks you wouldn't. But in the NFL, you face great receivers every week regardless of where they are on the depth chart.
What about off the field?
Hill: Here, you have to take care of everything yourself like paying your bills and everything like that. At Clemson, everything was taken care of for me and when I lived at home with my parents, it was also. Now that I am out on my own, I have to take care of my own and it's about balancing your time. It's pretty much about being a grown up and being responsible.
What are your thoughts on the NFL Scouting Combine and the Draft?
Hill: That's basically what it is-- a meat market. You are up there on display but at the same time, teams want to see what kind of person and athlete they are getting. It worked out well. I knew that I would go between nine and 21 in the first round. I knew that the Rams were high on me because of the kind of defense they were going to play. I knew that I had a chance when they were on the clock of me going there. So, I wasn't too shocked when they picked me.
The Rams look to be an up-and-coming team this year. Discuss your thoughts on being part of that and your expectations for this season.
Hill: This is definitely an exciting team to be around this year because we are building something and we have some key members of this team that will help take this team to the next level. I'm just glad to be part of it. We upgraded our defense last year by adding some pass rushers and that helps us in the secondary. This year is going to be fun.
When you were a freshman at Clemson, you ran track. How much do you miss your "other" sport?
Hill: I miss them all the time. Those were fun days for me. I still do some running on the track when I get home, but it's nothing competitive. I do miss it. It's always been part of my life for as long as football was but yes, I do miss it.
What sorts of activities are specifically prohibited in your contract?
Hill: I can't do anything that's hazardous to my health or well-being. I can't ride scooters, which I used to do or anything like that. They don't want you to do anything that might get you injured.
Tye Hill (CU/MARYLAND '04)