Darius Hillary's statistics from his senior season don't jump off the page. It's hard to rack up interceptions and tackles when offenses clearly didn't want to have any part of him.
"He did not get thrown at too often," said Sycamore (Ohio) High coach Scott Dattilo of Hillary. "They didn't want to challenge him. The other side of the field got a lot of action."
The Badgers are hopeful those things carry over, as Hillary's commitment Tuesday night continues to solidify a defensive back position that was priority one at the start of the 2011 recruiting cycle.
"When he was at Wisconsin, he really liked the area, the campus and had a good feel for them," Dattilo said. "He fell in love with the coaching staff and the entire atmosphere amongst the football program. Ultimately when he weighed all his options and put all the pros and cons on paper in front of him, Wisconsin was the choice he wanted."
The Badgers were the pick over Boston College, Illinois and Stanford (his other official visits) as well as offers from Buffalo, Connecticut, Duke, Illinois State, Indiana, Kent State, Kentucky, Marshall, Miami (OH), Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Western Kentucky.
Timed at a 4.45 40-yard dash last summer, Hillary (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) was an early target by many coaches, including Tight End Coach Joe Rudolph, because of the speed and athleticism he showcased for Sycamore High throughout his junior campaign. Rudolph offered Hillary during the spring evaluation period and stayed consistent within throughout, especially during his official visit to the Minnesota game.
"The big thing with Coach Rudolph is he is an upfront, straight-forward guy," Dattilo said. "He's not a used car salesman pumping his product. He's genuine and I think that shows through. I know the Hillarys appreciated that."
Having played both running back and cornerback for Sycamore his senior years, Hillary played some receiver his junior year, giving him the ability to slot in as Wisconsin's fourth cornerback commit or its fourth receiver commit.
"He has experience playing receiver and he has game-breaking type of speed," Dattilo said. "Anytime you have an athlete that has the size, speed and strength of Darius, you have to keep all your options open.
"He's got great speed, good instincts and what I think will make him a good player at the next level is how well he plays the ball. He's not the tallest corner, but he goes up and gets balls when they are in the air. When teams go vertical on him, it will be a difficult completion because he has that ability to climb the ladder."
Ranked a three-star athlete and the 81st-ranked cornerback in the country by Scout.com, Hillary's skills don't accurately reflect his ranking. Throw at him a few more times, Hillary could be a four-star talent, which is exactly why Wisconsin targeted him to strengthen its defensive core.
"If you are getting recruited by Wisconsin, you are a good football player," Dattilo said. "The ultimate thing and it was said several times to me, he is a person that can make the program really good. He was a good fit for Wisconsin and the type of kid they wanted – a high-character kid that works hard and is from a good family. It just seemed to be a natural fit for him in addition to the obvious talent."