Photo By Steven Chapman

Critical 20: No. 3 Kolin Hill

Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue of experience, leadership, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they absent.

There are several reasons for believing  the 2016 Texas Tech defense will be noticeably better than its near predecessors. And none of those reasons are any more significant than the inadvertent bequest of defensive talent to Texas Tech by two traditional Midwestern powers, Michigan and Notre Dame.

In this space we have already made mention of noseguard Ondre Pipkins’ transfer from Michigan to Texas Tech. Now is the time to discuss the second piece of the puzzle, defensive end Kolin Hill, who traded in his blue and gold for scarlet and black.  

Hill, like Pipkins, is a major talent who will upgrade his position considerably from what it was before. He has the size and strength to be the classic edge-setting defensive end. In the past Texas Tech was often badly outmuscled in the front seven, with atrocious run defense the result. Hill, along with Pipkins, will swing the balance of power Tech’s way against many an opponent, and will equalize the line of scrimmage against many others.

Hill’s lone year in South Bend strongly suggests that the above is not hyperbole. Not only was he one of 11 true freshmen to play for Notre Dame in 2014, he also made a statistical dent in his relatively modest amount of playing time.

In his college debut against Michigan, Hill served notice he was a potential star of the future. In that game he recorded three tackles, two tackles for loss, and one and a half sacks. For the season he finished with seven tackles, two for loss, and two sacks. You can be certain that Notre Dame’s coaches had big plans for Hill.

But now it’s time for Hill to pick up where he left off for the Fighting Irish. Texas Tech was No. 125 in scoring defense, No. 127 in rushing defense, No. 113 in passing defense, and No. 127 in total defense nationally last season. Quite literally, there is no place to go except up. And the presence of Kolin Hill provides hope the defense will ascend, perhaps even dramatically.  

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