Hill Starting to Move Up

Will Hill came to Florida with lots of fanfare, but until recently, you wouldn't even know he was on campus. The safety from New Jersey took a short time adjusting to college life, and then suffered a minor injury, but now he's looking like the player Florida thought they recruited.

In the last two games, Hill has amassed 16 tackles. He was the team leader against Georgia with 11 and recorded another five against the Dawgs.

"He's come a long way," safeties coach Chuck Heater said. "It's a major jump from high school to college especially in this heat. He had to learn how to go, and at the time he learned how to go he strained a hamstring. Now we're back in a situation where we are figuring out a way to get him out there."

Heater and the Gators are so hard pressed to get Hill onto the field, they did a little experimenting against Georgia. Ahmad Black and Major Wright are playing so well, it's tough to do anything other than rotate Hill in and out, so Heater plugged in Hill at nickel back for a few plays.

"My wife suggested it to me last Monday night," he said. "She asked me how come you can't get those three guys out there together. I said, ‘come on he's a safety.' You can do that with corners. We did that with [Tony] Joiner, though."

Most of Hill's tackles two weeks ago came on special teams. He's embraced his role on kickoff coverage, which has led to his journey up the depth chart.

"The right of passage for us with a young player is on special teams," Heater said. "When he started making all those tackles on special teams, he started turning the corner. That's validation for us when a young player starts making plays on special teams."

Hill would be competing against Ahmad Black for playing time, but the sophomore is having a tremendous season. Black is fourth on the team with 33 tackles and leads the Gators with four interceptions.

"You have to get past the visual, he's not very big, but he's a great athlete," Heater said. "He's a position guy who is fundamentally sound, which are all the things you talk about in the game of college football. You just had to deal with his size, but he's played well and functioned well. We got him in the box. He's a run box guy. He's done a remarkable job."

The Gators have picked off 13 passes this season compared to 11 during all of last season. Experience, said Heater, is the key to the improvement.

"They're a year older so they're seeing things better," he said. "I think we're getting better pressure on the quarterback and all the things that disrupt a quarterback. It makes it more effective for us."


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