Will Hill Keeps Getting Better

Urban Meyer has been adamant about his star sophomore safety from New Jersey. Will Hill is a starter according to Meyer and that says a lot for a guy that started a few games at nickel last season and plays on a defense that returns every starter and just about the entire two-deep on defense. The fact is Will Hill has made huge progress in the off-season and may be primed for a huge year.

Chuck Heater is the assistant defensive coordinator and also has the pleasure of coaching maybe the deepest and most talented safety group in the country. Ahmad Black had All-American numbers last season while Major Wright will hit you into tomorrow. Dorian Munroe returns after a year off, but the senior was the projected starter last year before getting hurt.

Heater knows that Will Hill has made huge strides and is ready to push the others and make this an even better defense than last season.

"No comparison because he was going through the transition of the heat and the tempo," Heater said of Hill's play from last season to the current one. "There was an expectation of how to play that was a struggle for him. It took a while to get a hold of all that. Now he is one of the very best and is doing what quality players do…play hard and finishing."

Heater said the wall that even the really talented freshmen hit when they arrive is something that is to be expected.

"I think it's true of about every kid that comes here," Heater said. "The majority of them have not learned to play at the pace and tempo and expectation that we have. It takes a while and is part of the development of a young player. That is why special teams is a great avenue for them because it gives them limited reps but an opportunity to perform and do what they have to do."

Hill agrees with Heater and understands that he needed to speed up to the SEC game so that the game would slow down for him.

"Last year at this time I didn't know how to practice at this tempo," Hill said. "When you come here (every practice is like) a game…I went through spring ball and all the adversity as far as mat drills and all. I feel comfortable with the plays and no doubts in my mind. I had some doubts last year with everything going through my mind…the defense and special teams and all.

It has been the extra effort that has made him one of the favorites this year to take a starting spot from one of last year's starters on defense.

"I just watch the receivers and I go in and watch a little extra film," Hill said. "I go out to practice and go 100 percent every day. If I slack up I know coach Meyer and Coach Heater are going to be on me. If I don't want them to say anything bad, I need to just keep going.

"Competition pushed me every day from the start of spring. Coach tells me every day to come out there and be the best player on defense. Just seeing Major and them out there I want to play just like them."

He is playing enough like them for coaches like Heater to really have to make some tough decisions down the line. Te staff is going to have to figure out which of the safeties give them the best chance to win and those will be on the field for more snaps.

"There will be some point that we have to decide who gets the majority of them (snaps), but we aren't at that point yet," Heater said. "I'm not worried about it now but at some point it will have to be talked about, dealt with, and managed."

With everyone returning on defense and players like Hill pushing some of last year's starters, most folks aren't wondering if they will be good, but how good will they be. Hill thinks they are ahead of last year's defense and for a variety of reasons.

"I'd say we are a lot ahead of last year," Hill said. "We have a lot of athletes that know what they are doing so they put in different schemes and we play better. You don't know who is coming from where, you know we are going to blitz but who is going to come. It was kind of plain last year."

The off-season has also been more grueling than ever before. Hill thinks the team has grown into a tighter knit group because of how hard it has been on them.

"It was bad, these coaches are crazy," Hill said. "They went through any and everything …they worked us to death."

It wasn't enough to break the spirit of the team however…

"I'm not surprised (no one packed up and left) because this team is built off of toughness and nobody wants to let the others down," he said. "We knew that once everything got going we knew everyone was going to keep going and pushing."

The Gators are coming off the national championship and have just received more votes than any preseason number one team in the history of the Coaches' Poll. Count Hill as one of the focused Gators that understands you can't meet all your goals if you don't take care of the first ones on the docket.

"Nobody is talking about rankings right now," he said. "All we are focused on is us and getting ready for the first game, second game…third game."

And odds are he will be starting and playing a lot in those three games.

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