Strong Camp Showing Earns Hilliard U-M Offer

2015 Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier LB Justin Hilliard ranked as one of the hottest recruits in the Midwest before he attended Michigan's camp Tuesday. Upon leaving town his stock goat even hotter when the Wolverines officially joined the scholarship fray.

Justin Hilliard has made a habit of turning in strong camp performances this summer. His latest conquest came in Ann Arbor Tuesday, where his efforts wound up convincing the Wolverine brass to extend him a scholarship offer.

“It was a good experience,” said Hilliard during the ride home. “I got to get around their campus and also compete against some other good players there too. It was good competition, so it was a good day.”

While earning his 25th offer was clearly the highlight of the day, the rising 2015 prospect was also pleased with the opportunity he had to get more familiar with the coaches and facilities.

“I definitely like their rise and what they’re doing,” Hilliard stated.  “The coaches seemed real energetic. I liked it a lot. Coach Mark Smith is definitely a cool guy.  He has been through it.  We’ve been talking for a while and he seems like a really good coach, he seems like a good guy. I got to go over to the weight room, then he showed me around the indoor facility. I didn’t get to do academic tour. I think I’m doing that later this summer on some random day.”

Coach Mattison was the one who actually offered me (after camp was over).  He’s a really good guy.  He’s really down to earth and also it seemed like he (was eager) to critique you and help you out and I guess coach you up. “

Hilliard wasn’t able to interact with Hoke on the day since he was always on the field competing when Michigan’s headman was around.  Still Hoke managed to make his presence felt.

“My mom actually talked to him earlier in the day,” said Hilliard.  “I didn’t get the chance because I guess he had to go to a meeting or something.  He told my mom that they were going to offer me.  I guess she knew like an hour before I did. She was definitely excited. She’s more of a modest person, but she’s excited because of the academic standpoint.”

Michigan’s strong scholastic reputation will likely aid Hoke & company in their pursuit of the St. Xavier star since that is among his chief criteria.

“(The decision) is going to be about where I feel comfortable and where I think I can actually play. That’s part of it. Plus academics too.”

One non-factor in his recruitment is boyhood fandom.  Hilliard insists he has no longstanding allegiance to any school, including Ohio State.

“I was sort of a bandwagoner when I was a kid,” he explained.  “I was all over the place because we moved all the time. I was never really like a true Ohio State fan.”

That gives Michigan and the rest of the schools on his extensive offer list legitimate chances to earn his pledge.

“I don’t have like a top list,” said Hilliard.  “I think I’ll be narrowing it down by hopefully middle of season or something like that.”

“(A decision) is probably going to be during my senior season or right before my senior season.“


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