Hillis Update and a Look at Memphis Prospects

Keeping up with the production of fullback Peyton Hillis is a little like monitoring the national debt — even when you watch it closely it can take astronomical leaps.

Not even the stiffer competition that comes with the playoffs has detoured the big back from his appointed task of piling up yards and reaching pay dirt. Playing Russellville in the Class 5A quarterfinals, the 6-2, 244-pound bulldozer powered his way for 251 yards and four touchdowns in 25 carries to lead Conway (11-1) to a 49-48 overtime victory.

Through 11 games (he missed one contest with a knee sprain), Hillis has rushed for 2,523 yards and 28 touchdowns in 241carries for an average of 229.4 yards per game and 10.4 yards per carry. Hillis' season is the third best by a running back in Arkansas Class-5A history. With possibly two postseason games left in the state's highest classifcation, Hillis needs 224 yards to break the record currently held by former West Memphis High School back De'Arrius Howard, who now plays for the Razorbacks.

As destiny would have it, Conway's semifinal game will take place in West Memphis against the Blue Devils on Friday night. Hillis needs just 87 yards to surpass the 5,000-yard mark. If the Wampus Cats can extend their season with a victory over West Memphis, Hillis would have a realistic shot at the single-season record held by former Razorback Madre Hill. Hillis needs 341 yards to break that record.

By the way, Hillis rushed for 384 yards and four touchdowns in 32 attempts in a regular season meeting against Russellville. His two game total vs. the Cyclones is 635 yards and eight touchdowns in 35 carries. No doubt Russellville, which entered last Friday's contest rated No. 3 in the state, is glad it has seen the last of Hillis.

Hillis has surpassed the 200-yard mark in six games this year and the 300-yard mark twice. He also had 198 yards against Little Rock Catholic. The Conway senior is also an outstanding pass catcher who is sure to remind Tennessee fans of former Vol Greg Amsler.

Hillis attended the Tennessee-Marshall game on an unofficial visit and will return for an official visit at the end of his season. He has additional official visits slated for Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Florida.

"I'm looking for a team with winning tradition," Hillis said. "A school with winning tradition knows how to win and expects to win. You can usually tell if you'll get along with the coaches when you first meet them. Coaches play a major role in developing leadership on a team and I want to go to a team with a lot of leaders. That's just the kind of person I am. As far as school goes, I think education is as good as you want it to be."

Big Orange football fans in the Memphis area will have a chance to catch Hillis in action by taking the short drive across the Mississippi River bridge.

Speaking of Memphis, the Bluff City is rich in defensive backs this season that the Vols maintain an interest in. One is Memphis Melrose cornerback Carlos Armour, who has committed to Miami but is still taking visits. Armour, the teammate of UTcommitment Elix Wilson, is 6-3, 200, and runs a 4.45.

Others include Memphis Fairley corner Terrance Sharp, 5-10, 170, 4.4 in the 40; Melrose safety Chris Hampton, 6-0, 171, 4.51, and Germantown cornerback Brandon Patterson, 6-1, 180, 4.5.

Memphis Southhaven offensive lineman Josh Winchell, 6-4, 305, 5.1, is another prospect that is receiving a lot of interest from SEC schools including Mississippi, Mississippi State and Arkansas.

The Vols are also pursuing a name that is very familiar to SEC fans. Eiland Means, 6-6, 250, 4.6, is the younger brother of Memphis defensive lineman Albert Means, who was a high school All-American at Trezvant before signing with Alabama. His recruitment by Bama became the focal point of an NCAA investigation that led to the Crimson Tide's current probabtionary status.

Means plays at Highland Community College in Kansas after transferring from Coahoma Community College in Mississippi. Like Albert, he went to high school at Trezvant, but academic shortcomings and the controversy surrounding his brother scared a lot of high profile programs away from the prospect when he graduated in 2002.

That's not a problem now as Miami, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee are all high on his list of favorites. Means is two-way player who is seeing action at both tight end and defensive end.

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