An Old Dog Learning New Tricks

While it took longer than he envisioned it as a young freshman, Mississippi State tight end Brandon Hill recorded the first receiving touchdown of his college career last weekend. The senior standout elevated along the left corner of the endzone to snag a Dak Prescott pass from the Commonwealth stadium sky. The important score was officially secured when Hill fell to the "Bluegrass" turf.

"We called 'Phoenix' which is a two tight end set," said Hill of his biggest personal highlight. "Malcolm goes to the flat and I go to the corner.

"The play is designed for me to be in that back corner of the endzone.

"I just did my job and he threw it to me."

The throw was thrown where only Hill could catch it, but the West Lowndes high school product had to make a real effort to corral it.

"I had to climb the ladder to go get it," said Hill with a smile. "We practice plays like that all of the time.

"Our preparation allowed me to go make that play. I'm just glad Dak had the confidence in me to make that play, so he threw it to me."

Hill has put in just over three and a half seasons of college work before getting his paws on a pass in the paydirt, so the talented tight end looks back fondly on the fact that his score was an important one that required him to show some real ball skills.

"I wanted to make a statement," said Hill with a grin. "I'm glad he put it where he did, so I could show off a little of my athleticism.

"I don't think many people knew I could do all of that."

Hill had to be helped from the field following the score, which has led many Bulldog fans to inquire about his availability for this weekend's home game against Arkansas.

"I am not 100%, but I will be good enough to go this weekend," said Hill. "Nobody is 100% this time of year. Everybody has played seven or eight games, so everybody is banged up. That's just how it is in college football.

"Whoever can play the best through the pain is the team that is going to win."

Hill is one of three Mississippi State tight ends who have found the endzone this season. Bulldog veteran Malcolm Johnson and sophomore Gus Walley recorded scoring catches earlier in the season.

Coach Scott Sallach's personnel group may be the most talented collection of tight ends he has coached since arriving in Starkville six years ago.

From Hill's vantage point, each of the tight ends on the Bulldog roster bring different attributes to the table.

"Everybody is different," said Hill. "We all have different backgrounds. We're all from different areas. We all have different skill sets too.

"Everybody can do everything, but we've all got different things we're all better at.

"Just watching film on each other, you can see that we can all do the same things, but we all do things a little differently."

The Bulldogs will take the field for their first home game as the nation's #1 this Saturday when the Razorbacks from Arkansas come to town.

Like every other team in the SEC, the Razorbacks bring a talented roster of players into the head to head match-up.

"Arkansas plays hard and they're real physical," said Hill. "The main thing we have to do is do our best to over power them with our scheme, because they're going to try to over power us with theirs."

Shortly after the Bulldogs' Tuesday practices were over, the team learned that they were ranked #1 in the first ever FBS college football rankings.

While certainly an important distinction, Hill reports that the job never changes no matter what happens with rankings, projections or outside expectations.

"This has all been a long time coming," said Hill. "We've always remained positive, because we foresaw some big things coming for us.

"We always felt we could have a season like this. We got a little glimpse of what it could be like back in 2012. We saw then that we could be as good as we wanted to be.

"That year we won a lot of games, but we just couldn't get over the hump. This year it just feels like we're able to sort of put things all together."

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