Tigers pursuing "well-balanced" tight en

HOUSTON -- From Brian Kinchen to Robert Royal, the Tigers have been rich in tight end talent for more than a decade. If LSU lands Tony Hills, Houston's Alief Elsik High School's 6-6, 250-pound man-child, the position could be set well into the next few seasons.

"I think I'm a well-balanced tight end," Hills told TigerRag.com. "I try to combine the hands of Tony Gonzales (Kansas City Chiefs), the power of Jeremy Shockey (New York Giants) and the intelligence of Shannon Sharpe (Denver Broncos). Sharpe is my favorite -- he is so smart on the field."


While mentioning Pro-Bowl caliber professional football players seems a little premature, Elsik head coach Bill Barron doesn't think he's that far off.


"He's probably the most prized recruit I've ever had in my tenure of coaching -- without a question," Barron said. "I would be surprised if he doesn't play on Sundays."


Barron should know what it takes to make it to the league, having produced NFL veterans Keenan McCardell (Tampa Bay Bucs), Van Malone (Detroit Lions), Warrick Holdman (Chicago Bears) and former Philadelphia Eagle Donovan Greer.


"Those NFL guys had great work ethic, but I never thought they were the greatest athletes. It was just a great attitude that made them successful," Barron said. "Tony combines the physical tools with the work ethic and attitude. He is the total package."


Able to write his own ticket, Hills – one of the nation's top-rated tight ends by every recruiting service -- is in full courtship with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Colorado and Nebraska. He is also looking closely at out-of-state powers such as LSU, Michigan, Arizona, Florida and Florida State.


"I'm still open-minded about my choice right now and just researching universities that fit me best," Hills said. "I want to try accounting as a major."


Hills' father's family is from Many, La., and they have indoctrinated him in Tiger lore.


"I've never been to a game in Tiger Stadium yet, but they remind me how crazy they are about LSU football all the time," Hills said.


Hills anchors an option-oriented Elsik offense that averages over 350 yards per game, ranking them in the Houston-area's top 10.


"Elsik has always run the option and he makes it even more difficult to stop," rival Alief Hastings High School head coach Bobby Stuart said. "He is an excellent kid and a big rascal. He can block anyone you line up against him."


While Elsik's option-oriented offense does not showcase Hills' receiving talents, scouts and recruiters are aware of his athleticism. He was clocked at a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash and displayed soft hands at this summer's Nike Camp at Texas A&M.


"People see me run and catch and think I'm a basketball player, but I've always been about football." Hills said. "I've been known to play little street ball, though."


Although Hills has yet to take any official visits yet and does not play to until after his high school season, he has already been through part of the recruiting ringer.


"I knew towards the end of my junior season and after the Nike Camp in College Station, that things were going to start getting hectic," he said. "We had three guys last year go Division I and got to see how the recruiting process went for them. It's going pretty good so far.


"But it's so crazy the rumors you hear," he said. "Before the season started, someone wrote that I had already committed to Texas, freaking out everyone. I hadn't, and had to calm down a bunch of college coaches."

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