Center Line receiver drawing defensive attention

Ricco Hill's speed is likely to draw the eyes of scouts from Division I Mid-American Conference schools across Michigan and top-flight Divison II programs when the Center Line senior showcases his talents for the Panthers this season.

A wide receiver who will play running back his senior season at Center Line, Hill has been timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.33 and 4.29 seconds, the fastest ever by a Center Line player. He's looking forward to playing running back for the Panthers, and for his coach, 72-year-old Pete Coll, entering his 48th year of coaching.

"He's the fastest kid I've had since I've coached here," Coll said. "We'll put him at running back and see what happens."

"We had a pretty good season last year," Hill said. "We never got that far in the playoffs (second round) before. Maybe we could have done even better."

A receiver for Center Line the past two years, Hill had 700 yards in pass receiving last year but is more than ready to play in the offensive backfield this fall.

"I had wanted to play running back," Hill said. "This year, we needed some players in that position."

With his speed, Hill expects to total more than 1,000 yards this year.

"I have pretty good vision of the field for the most part," he said. "I feel comfortable with the decision to go to running back. I played it with the JV team."

Coll is hoping his line can open some holes for the speedy Hill.

"We will need some help on the line," Hill said. "We'll probably do some slants to the outside."

He may be running the ball more, but Hill s main contributions to the team will come from his pass receiving chores.

"If they need me, I can switch back to receiver," he said. "I get open pretty fast and I can get behind the defense. That's my biggest strength."

Colleges may want to look at Hill at wide receiver or defensive back. He had 79 tackles as a free safety and two interceptions last year.

Hill came into the season obsessed with getting in shape — so obsessed that he might also run cross country during the fall season.

"That will help me get in better shape and help the team out more," he said.

Hill would like to help the Panthers become a serious playoff contender this year.

"I have a lot of confidence in this team," he said. "I think we'll do very well. We should win at least seven or more out of our nine regular-season games. We'll go to the playoffs for sure."

Hill has confidence in the offensive line that will be providing some holes for the Panther senior.

"We lost quite a few people from last year," he said. "We lost some huge linemen. We have some guys from the JVs who will be coming up. I think we'll be in good shape."

Hill has been getting a lot of letters from schools but is likely to be courted by a fair share of Divison I and II schools.

"Hopefully by the end of the season, I should be hearing from some colleges," he said.

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