Should Hill go pro? Doba weighs in

COACH BILL DOBA said Tuesday he would council receiver Jason Hill to stay for his senior year unless it appears he would be one of the top ten picks in the NFL Draft. Doba mentioned former Cougar defensive tackle Rien Long and others as examples of why staying his final year, getting his degree and positioning himself for the draft as a senior might make more sense than going pro early.

Doba said he has not spoken to Hill about leaving early, but said others have already tried.

"I'm sure he's getting calls from agents," said Doba of star receiver Jason Hill. "And we've had calls here from agents who wanted his number and all that stuff, and of course that's a violation to sign with those guys. But if he can go in that first five, six or 10 picks, then I think it's worth it to go, because I wouldn't stop a guy that could sign for umpteen millions."

But Doba also said for every one of those guys, there's a gaggle of others who come nowhere near being drafted as high as some would lead them to believe.

The 6-1, 210-pound Hill is No. 2 in the nation in receiving yards per game, averaging 137.6 yards.

Hill has shredded defensive backfields this year in the process of rewriting the Cougar record book in his third season, and only his second as a starting receiver. This past Saturday with three TDs against California, the junior set the WSU school record for touchdown receptions in a career with 23 -- topping the mark by Cougar Hall-of-Famer Hugh Campbell that had stood for over 40 years when the Saratoga, Calif., great pulled in 22 TDs from 1960-62.

Hill has 11 touchdown catches on the year, despite missing one game due to injury and being at less than full health in two others due to a deep thigh contusion suffered against Oregon State. Hill already owns that WSU record with 12, set by the San Francisco native last season.

Hill's six catches for 240 yards against Cal ranks fourth on the all-time WSU list and is the top mark in the Pac-10 this season. He is on pace to top the all-time season mark of 1,163 yards set by Nakoa McElrath in 2001.

Doba said WSU has already begun the process of polling NFL teams to see where Hill would likely be drafted. When Rien Long went pro a year early in the 2003 draft, he did not ask WSU to poll the NFL. Washington State went ahead and did so anyway but it appeared Long had already made up his mind by that point.

"Had (Long) waited the next year, he would have gone probably in that first day's draft," said Doba, who went on to say injury and other factors also need to be considered. "There's a lot of ifs and buts to think about."

Doba said out of the 12 or 13 DTs in the draft that year, Long was either the last or second to last to be taken, going as a fourth round pick. Doba also pointed out there may have been about 3-4 million dollars or more difference in Long's decision to go pro early, and said it might take several years for the Anacortes native to make up that difference. Long signed a four year deal with Tennessee -- for the NFL rookie minimum base salaries each year -- plus a signing bonus.

"If (Hill) goes in the second day or the second round or third round, then those are all slots and there's no advantage to going out early other than you're going to make an extra year's of income," said Doba. "I look at the guys that go out early and some don't even get drafted. And had they stuck around another year..."

"Whatever's best for Jason is what we'll try and do for him," reiterated Doba.

Doba said the Cougs will consider going against the grain and try to be more deliberate on offense against Southern Cal, trying to keep the Trojan offense off the field as much as possible. One way WSU might do that and still maintain their tempo is to stay in the huddle longer, while snapping the ball with less time on the play clock.

WSU might only start two seniors on defense this week, cornerback Alex Teems and defensive end Adam Braidwood, with CB Omowale Dada a question mark with a hip flexor.

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