Brawn with balance

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If you combined the size of former Vol Jamal Lewis and the balance of former Vol Chuck Webb ... well, you'd have one intriguing running back prospect.

That essentially sums up Alden Hill, a Tennessee commitment from Marlington High School in Alliance, Ohio.

At 6-feet-2 and 230 pounds, he is virtually identical in size to Lewis when he arrived in Knoxville as a freshman in 1997. Heft may not be Hill's best attribute, however.

"He has great balance for a big kid," Marlington head coach Ed Miley told InsideTennessee. "I've seen big kids who can run but not with his kind of balance."

Although a tad small at 5-feet-11 and 200 pounds, Webb had stocky legs that made him difficult to knock off his feet. This knack enabled him to post the two greatest rushing performances in Vol history — 294 yards versus Ole Miss in 1989 and 250 versus Arkansas in the 1990 Cotton Bowl. Hill has powerful legs, as well.

"A lot of his weight is in his lower body, so he naturally breaks a lot of tackles," Miley said. "He rushed for 1,400 yards this year, and most of those yards were after contact. He set a school record in Week 1 with 315 yards against St. Thomas, with runs of 57, 71 and 91 yards. On each of his runs he broke tackles at the line of scrimmage, then was fast enough to take it downfield."

Hill reportedly has been clocked at 10.9 seconds in the 100 meters and routinely hits 4.6 in the forty-yard dash, with a low of 4.55. In addition to good feet, he has good hands.

"He caught eight passes for 216 receiving yards this season," Miley noted. "Most were on vertical routes."

The future Vol recently finished his prep days with school records for career yards (4,912) and career touchdowns (72), while averaging nearly 8.0 yards per carry. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that he was part of a tailback tandem.

"He shared the field with another BCS recruit," Miley said. "We have a junior running back on our team, Dymonte Thomas, who already has committed to Michigan and is second in those categories (career yards and TDs)."

Asked to describe Hill's running style, Miley paused thoughtfully before replying: "Kinda unique because he's so big but has good balance. He's a north-south runner."

In spite of the 315-yard rushing effort in Marlington's opener, Hill's best performance of 2011 probably came against Minerva High. Vol linebackers coach Peter Sirmon attended that one.

"That was Alden's best game, even though we lost," Miley said. "He had 122 rushing yards. Our starting quarterback went out with an injury and Alden kind of put us on his back."

Hill was voted Ohio's Div. III Offensive Player of the Year after guiding Marlington to a 13-1 record in 2010. He led the team to a 10-2 mark in 2011. He accomplished all of this while also competing in two other sports.

"He's always been a three-sport kid — football, basketball and track," Miley noted. "He always had to come in in the mornings to lift weights because he's in sports year-round."

Finishing high school with a 3.7 grade-point average, Hill will be 17 years old when he enrolls at Tennessee next month. He turns 18 on Jan. 23, yet exhibits maturity beyond his years.

"He has grown up a ton emotionally," Miley said. "I'm excited about his future. He's still a young kid. Being at Tennessee in the spring will be huge. It'll give him a jump start."

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