When his team also needed a receiver and another weapon on offense, Hillary became the natural fit as his 353 yards and eight touchdowns gave a boost to the offense.
"I saw that as an opportunity to get to where I wanted to be," said Hillary. "Versatility these days is a pretty good combination, and I felt that if I did that I could open up other opportunities for myself."
His diligence was rewarded in high school (he was a two-time team captain) and his abilities are being rewarded at Wisconsin. With a logjam of young talent at cornerback, the Badgers moved Hillary to free safety to back up junior Dezmen Southward at the beginning of the second week of camo.
"There are certain things we think against spread offenses he can do for us at safety verse corner," said defensive coordinator Chris Ash. "There are some other guys that are pretty good at corner, so we want to find another young safety. He was the best candidate."
The big shift moving from cornerback to safety in Wisconsin's base defense, according to Hillary, is the different checks he needs to make within the formation. While a cornerback's main focus is on the receiver or tight end in front of him, the safety role requires players to see a broader picture and have a general knowledge of every position on the field.
"Everything is running smoothly right now," said Hillary. "When they told me about the switch, I took it in stride and embraced it because that's how you have to handle things. That's the way to get on the field quicker."
Although he redshirted last season, Hillary was so close to playing that the Wisconsin staff put him on the team's travel roster throughout the year, allowing him to get the experience of being in hostile road environments and learning the routine. That experience along with his offseason workouts with the other defensive backs has made Hillary appear more experienced that he actually is.
"He showed a lot of strength of being a player that can help us," said senior cornerback Devin Smith. "He's definitely a playmaker and one heck of an athlete. He has a lot of stuff to learn and it's going to take time. He's going to be a good player."
Hillary admitted it's going to take more than two weeks for him to get the new technique down of his new position, but is determined to be a playmaker when he gets his opportunity.
"Anywhere I can get on the field is where I want to go," said Hillary. "I am excited the coaches gave me a chance."
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