One of the best running backs in the history of Division II football with 4,969 career rushing yards, the Missouri Western star faced an uncertain future after his career concluded with a 122-yard performance in a second-round playoff loss. His production alone was enough to get scouts' attention, but at 5-foot-10 and 209 pounds, he wasn't the biggest back, and with a 4.60 clocking in the 40-yard dash, he certainly wasn't the fastest.
Then a few dominoes fell in rapid-fire fashion. Hill changed agents, hiring Harold Lewis. Then, a running back dropped out of the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic. Lewis worked quickly and got Hill into the game.
A week later, Hill was voted the game's MVP after rushing for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 12 attempts. Since then, he's been a man in demand.
"I've been on planes nonstop," Hill told Packer Report on Sunday. His itinerary included a predraft visit with the Green Bay Packers. "All the coaches I've talked to have been awesome, especially in Green Bay. It was really cool learning about the history and tradition there and seeing players and seeing schemes and the things that I'd be doing. It was awesome."
Hill was a finalist for the Harlan Hill Trophy, which is the Division II equivalent to the Heisman. He rushed for 2,168 yards with a gaudy 7.0-yard average. He topped 100 yards in 11 of 14 games and rushed for 16 touchdowns.
The rushing numbers, however, are just part of the attraction for the Packers. He's an asset in the passing game, with 21 passes for 220 yards and three more scores as a senior to go with his team-high 31 receptions as a junior.
"A couple scouts told me I played like Ray Rice," Hill said. "I can catch the ball really well; I led the team in receptions my junior year. I take pride in blocking, and that's a huge part of a running back's game. I know protections. At my college, I made the protection calls and I was the person who set the protection schemes for myself and the line. When there's a hole, I'm going to take it and I think I have pretty good acceleration. I've got a couple moves up my sleeve and my best one is my stiff-arm."
Hill was prepared for a long-shot run to an NFL roster spot as an undrafted free agent until he got his big break at the Raycom game. Now, he's considered a pretty good bet to be late-round pick.
"It was really big, especially since I was a late addition to it," Hill said. "Harold Lewis got me into the game, and the next thing I know, I got MVP. I enjoyed being coached under Dan Reeves and Billy "Whiteshoes" Johnson. It was a great experience."
Hill's performance answered some of the obvious questions about how he'd fare against better competition. The rosters included 22 players from SEC schools. Hill, however, knew he belonged and was eager to prove himself to scouts.
"I was confident all along," he said. "You can't second-guess yourself, you can't tell yourself, ‘maybe.' You have to know that you can do it, and I believed it, and that comes from preparation and hard work, and I've been dedicated since I've been playing football and especially the last four or five years. I've been really focused on perfecting my craft."
Hill doesn't exactly fit the Packers' big-back preference but he's got the frame to additional weight without taking away from his speed. While his 40 time was so-so, he is an "explosive open-field runner who shows above-average balance and lateral agility. He is a patient runner who can generate a second gear to explode through the pile. You can see on film the bounce in his step when cutting back and the avoidance skills he displays in the open field," reads the scouting report from the NFL's longtime top scout, Dave-Te' Thomas.
Hill's career changed with one phone call two months ago. His career will change again on Saturday, whether he's drafted or part of a free agent scramble.
"My nerves are going to be high," he said. "I'm hoping I get picked up, and when it happens, it'll be a true honor. I'm in a position that a lot of people dream about and I've been dreaming about my whole life. It'll be an emotional time, an exciting time and a very happy time. I'm just ready for that day to come and get started on my career."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.