After an up-and-down rookie season, wide receiver Stephen Hill looks to evade a sophomore slump and emerge as a dominant receiver in the revamped passing game under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
Just over one year ago Stephen Hill saw his NFL dreams become a reality when he was drafted as the New York Jets' second round pick in 2012. Hill was a much sought after commodity entering the draft. The Jets moved up to select the Georgia Tech alumnus after trading away their fifth and seventh round selections to the Seattle Seahawks. Hill made the final roster and was named a Week 1 starter alongside veteran receiver Santonio Holmes.
It only took one game for Hill to make his mark. In Gang Green season opener, Hill recorded five receptions for 84 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-28 rout of the Buffalo Bills. The game was one to remember for Hill because in addition to his impressive numbers; the rookie battled through a stomach ailment that had him vomiting on the sidelines for the duration of the game. Hill made a Herculean effort in just his first game and set the tone for what he had hoped would become a productive season.
However, things took a turn for the worse as Hill would later sprain his LCL and land on the injured reserve list for the remainder of the season. Hill would admit to being ill-prepared to handle the pressure of the New York media circus and felt his game suffer as a result.
"We're always on ESPN for something, and it was just a lot," Hill confessed. "It put pressure on learning, and then having to explain if I messed up, so that's where most of the pressure was. It probably did throw me off during games."
This year, Hill is feeling much more prepared to handle the stress of a full NFL season. With his rookie year struggles fresh in his mind, Hill is determined to justify the franchise's faith in selecting him in the second round. He admits to thinking of his rookie year as a learning experience and will use his experience to improve his skill set. While much of his success will depend on who will emerge as the starter under center, you can bet that Hill will look a lot more confident when he takes the field in 2013.
While Hill only finished his rookie year with 252 receiving yards and three scores, his new outlook on the NFL along with his improved health has him slated for a breakout season in 2013. Sanjay Lal, receiver coach for Gang Green, has been working with Hill on improving his play and has him on a similar path that saw Darrius Heyward-Bey become a playmaker after a similar rookie campaign. Hill has his sights set on making the Pro Bowl and attaining the status of his childhood idol, Jerry Rice.