The Parade All-American did not report to campus until this semester and, following Tuesday's practice, has all of two days under his belt as a true freshman footballer. As such, the last time Hills leveled a defensive end or took one for the team across the middle was back when he was still taking his SATs. For now, Hills is gradually knocking off the rust and regaining the confidence required of any athlete who has sustained a severe injury.
Along with sophomore Neale Tweedie, Hills is working at TE in goal line and short yardage situations but is otherwise mixing in with the offensive line.
"We're just making sure that he's 100 percent well before we put him out and run him a whole lot in routes," Brown said. "He's looked good but we haven't blocked anybody. He's got great flexibility and he's a guy that can run. I think he's going to be fine. It may just be a while. I don't know how he'll respond to pads since he hasn't been in pads since he got hurt."
The Horns don pads for the first time 4 p.m., Friday, at Frank Denius Field. The session will be open to the public since rainy weather forced Tuesday's session into the Bubble.
"Friday will be a scary day for him," Brown said. "We do not feel like he will respond very well early but he think, as he gains confidence, he'll get better and better. We're not planning on him right now but we're watching him every day. He's working real hard."
The 6-6 Hills weighs closer to 280 than the 270 listed in the current media guide, Brown told me. Frankly, Hills looks every pound of it. He's not fat; he just looks like a lineman. Known for his exceptional blocking skills, Hills averaged 17.9 yards on 28 receptions during his final two years of high school on a ball-control rushing offense. Hills is the son of former Houston Oiler great, Tony Hills, Senior.
Brown will conduct High School Coaches Clinic on Wednesday and Thursday. The Horns are set to scrimmage at Royal-Memorial Stadium, 2 p.m., Saturday. It will be the last time drills are open to the public until the April 3 Spring Jamboree.