The 6-foot-1 junior from Steelton, Pa., who is slated to start alongside fellow tackle Devon Still when the Nittany Lions open with Indiana State at Beaver Stadium Saturday, has shed significant weight since his sophomore season.
Hill weighed in at 318 pounds when he returned from PSU's Outback Bowl appearance last January. Now he tips the scales at 291.
When was the last time he was so light?
Probably my senior year in high school, Hill said.
According to Hill, getting lighter and quicker was a goal for the entire defensive line in the off-season. Even position coach Larry Johnson got in on the act, dropping more than 25 pounds.
We all took it as a challenge, Hill said. You never want to back down from a challenge. The way Coach Johnson wants you to play and how he teaches the game, you want to be able to go each and every play at 100 percent and be fresh every game. We felt a big part of that was being in shape and getting our weight down so we can fly around.
The secret to his diet was cutting out what Hill described as bad foods, like cheeseburgers and fries.
I just wanted to focus on eating better things, he said. It wasn't that I was eating a lot; I was eating bad things.
He also worked out more, with the help of roommate Justin Brown. They'd do pushups and sit-ups in their on-campus apartment at night. They'd also exercise with dumbbells. All of this was on top of their usual workout routine at Lasch Building and off-season runs.
Of course, at 214 pounds, the 6-3 Brown really didn't have to trim down.
I just wanted to stay the same (weight), Brown said. But when I saw him working out, I didn't want to not being doing anything while my teammate got better.
While Hill has played at different spots along the defensive line to this point of his career, he will only man the one-technique (nose tackle) position this season. He believes zeroing in on one spot and dropping the weight will make him that much better. His goals have been clear since winter workouts began, and he expected it to be a grind.
As it turned out, though, dropping the weight was easier than he anticipated. He simply replaced the bad foods with healthier choices like fruit and chicken. He drank a lot of water.
I really didn't have too much of a problem with it, because I like a lot of other things, he reported. I go to Subway a lot and I eat at certain delis.
Hill laughed when someone asked if Jared Fogle, the company spokesman who famously dropped hundreds of pounds on the Subway diet, was a role model.
No, Hill said. That's just one of those things that I walked by (the restaurant), and I like Subway anyway. So it was a good choice.