Prep coach says Hill a jewel

<b>JASON HILL'S</b> high school football coach told this week that the lad's upside as a receiver --- a position the one-time QB played this past season for the first time --- is so high that he wouldn't be surprised to see Hill playing in the NFL someday. Moreover, Hill's basketball talents may find him hooping it up for the Cougars, too.

"He has a great work ethic, is very gifted athletically, has confidence and is a good person," Phil Freed, coach at San Francisco's Scared Heart Cathedral Prep, told CF.C on Monday.

Hill's work ethic has taken a full tenth of a second off his 40 time -- he's now at 4.4, says Freed --- and boosted his weight to 190, up from 175 last September. "I think he can easily put on another 20 to 30 pounds and probably grow another inch without losing any speed."

Hill is also rock solid in the classroom, maintaining a 2.9-plus GPA and already securing a qualifying SAT score, Freed said.

But more than all that, says Freed, is Hill's tremendous attitude. "Jason played quarterback here for three seasons, starting as a junior, but then we moved him to receiver his senior season because we had a junior who was better suited to our option offense. That could have been a tough situation, but Jason handled it really well. He's a team player with the ability to adapt."

And adapt he did. Hill ran and caught up a storm this season to lead the Fightin'Irish to a 9-1 record. As receiver in an option offense he snagged 24 passes for 584 yards and six TDs, and also took a handoff 74 yards for a TD. As a defensive back he scored three more TDs, taking picks to the house from 30, 45 and 50 yards out. And as a return specialist he returned three kickoffs and one punt for TDs.

For his effort, the San Francisco Chronicle named him co-runner-up to USC-bound Eric Wright for City Player of the Year honors. Hill also earned honorable mention at receiver and DB on the Chronicle's all-region team.

Scholarship offers came from WSU, Oregon State and San Diego State, with others lurking.

"He's raw as a wideout, because he's only played the position for a year," Freed said. Still, he added, "On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate his hands an 8, his route running a 7 and his blocking skills an 8."

In eight years at Sacred Heart, Freed says Hill ranks in the top two of the best players he's ever had.

As for basketball, Hill is a star shooting guard/swingman for the Irish and has talked with WSU football and basketball coaches about playing both sports in Pullman, Freed said.

IN OTHER NEWS on the recruiting trail, reports that Pomona's Hussain Abdullah, younger brother of WSU DB Hamza Abdullah, has narrowed his list to Arizona State, Kansas and Washington State and plans to announce his choice on February 3 -- two days before national letter of intent signing day.

Cougar coaches are expected to make a home visit tomorrow, with his official trip slated for this weekend. Abdullah is a 6-1, 180-pound cornerback. His visits to both Kansas and ASU are said to have gone beautifully.

Another prep cornerback in the Cougar orbit --- Ray Bass of Corona, Calif. --- is reported by as verbally casting his lot with Hawaii, where his brother Mike plays running back.

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