Odd as it may sound, though, the events of the past few days - during which time PSU named a new head coach (Bill O'Brien) and that new top man opted to retain the old defensive line coach (Larry Johnson) -- did not factor into Hill's decision.
I made the decision before (the hire of) Coach O'Brien was mentioned, Hill said. It came out Thursday that he was the head coach. I made my decision Wednesday.
An honorable-mention All-Big Ten pick in 2011, Hill finished the season with 59 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a team-high three fumble recoveries. Following the Nittany Lions' 30-14 loss to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas Jan. 2, he said he wanted to go home to Steelton, Pa., to think about whether or not to enter the draft.
Monday marks the start of the spring semester at Penn State and Hill is back on campus.
I just had to have a long conversation with my family, he said. I knew (returning) was the best decision for me. I just wanted the input of the people I love. Then I decided the (best) decision was to come back.
Being able to keep playing for Johnson, who recruited Hill and is now his position coach, is just a bonus.
He's meant a lot to me personally, Hill said. He's one of the reasons I'm here. He gave me a chance to come up here when not a lot of other teams wanted me out of high school. He's helped me develop into the player I am today. It means a lot for him to come back for my senior year.
Junior Gerald Hodges, an All-Big Ten linebacker, had previously announced his intention to return to Penn State for his senior season.