On the gridiron, Will Hill's talents were unrivaled.
Unfortunately for Hill--outside the lines--he became his own worst enemy.
Following a stellar senior season at St. Peter's Prep in New Jersey, Will Hill was rated as the top high school safety in the nation.
The Garden State product accepted an athletic scholarship offer from the University of Florida and was named to the 2008 SEC All-Freshmen team.
The safety's sophomore season ended in storybook fashion with the Gators capturing the BCS National Championship and Hill reaching the pinnacle of the college football world.
While his teammates were riding high off the title victory, Hill's high came from routine marijuana use which nearly derailed his football ambitions.
After a disappointing junior season--littered with off-the-field issues--Hill opted to declare for the 2011 NFL draft. The draft came and went without Hill stepping to the podium and the star safety reached a low point in his young football career.
"I was depressed for a while and thinking it was all over, admitted Hill. "But I tried to stay focus and not give up on my dreams."
Flash forward one-year and Hill is a changed man. He's been working with NFL players, coaches and athletic trainers to help him keep things in perspective.
While Hill wasted a golden opportunity in 2011, the former University of Florida standout is determined not to make the same mistake twice.
"I'm in a better state," remarked Hill. "I was a wild young boy. I really took things for granted. This year I've been working with Ray Buchanon, Larry Fitzgerald, Chip Smith along with Brian Martin. The most they've been working me with is off the field. Bettering myself as a person. To help me become a better father, a better player and overall a better person."
It was a hard lesson learned for Hill as his NFL dreams began to fade.
Hill's fall from stardom ultimately gave him a better sense for proper training methods and positive off-the-field conduct.
"Physically, I'm in better shape now because I didn't play last year," noted Hill. "My body had a lot of time to recover. I learned how to train. What to do, what to put in your body and what not to put in your body."
For Hill, his football talents were unquestioned, but his dedication and work ethic left something to be desired.
A year removed from competitive football, Hill used the time to reflect on his missteps and redefine his work ethic.
Among Hill's football mentors, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald serves as a guiding light in his life.
"As an example, Larry Fitzgerald one of the top ten players in the league, is not even that fast but he's one of the top receivers. It's his work ethic. He taught me. He prepared me for my shot. They said it's not your ability it's your off the field actions that matter most."
With a renewed sense of purpose and focus, Hill is chomping at the bit to make his mark at the next level.
"I want to reach my dream and that's to make it to the NFL," said Hill. "Wherever the opportunity presents itself, I'm there."
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.comblog comments powered by Disqus