Hill: Time for Reflection is Later

Michael Hill wasn't sure about his football future after his college career ended in the Division II playoffs. The runner-up for the Harlon Hill Trophy and an MVP of a college all-star game now awaits his chance with the Packers.

Michael Hill doesn't have time to take a step back and smile at the chain of events that have led him to the Green Bay Packers' active roster.

"I don't think I'm going to let it soak in yet," Hill said. "I've got a short amount of time to get ready. That'll all come together. It's done now. I can always look back on it but I don't want to let down this team or this organization. I'm going to keep working at it and go hard in the playbook."

Hill, a record-setting running back at Missouri Western who finished second in voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy — the Division II equivalent of the Heisman — wasn't sure about his football future after his collegiate career ended with a loss in the second round of the playoffs. Then he changed agents, with Harold Lewis working to get Hill into the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic when one of the other backs dropped out of the game.

A week later, Hill was voted the game's MVP after rushing for 148 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 rushes. While the Raycom game isn't exactly the Senior Bowl, there were 22 players from SEC rosters. His head coach was Dan Reeves.

That performance put Hill squarely on the NFL radar. Among Hill's pre-draft visits was a stop in Green Bay.

"That was pretty cool," Hill said. "They showed a lot of interest. (Top scout) Alonzo Highsmith came down to pro day, so they had been in contact, then I came up here. Everybody's just a class act here and they know how to win. I'm lucky to be here and I'm happy that they picked me up after I got cut."

After going undrafted, the Packers were one of the teams hoping to sign him. With draft picks invested in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, Hill decided San Diego would be a better opportunity.

"There were three veteran running backs ahead of me: Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown. They were all pretty much Pro Bowlers," Hill said. "Learning from them and then learning from a coach (Ollie Wilson) that coached (LaDainian Tomlinson) and has been the league for about 20 years was great. All of those guys were great guys. It really helped me out, mentally and physically. The transition to the NFL is huge from college."

Hill didn't make San Diego's roster, though he had a good training camp. He accepted an offer to join the Packers' practice squad. With James Starks (knee) and John Kuhn (hamstring) still out following the bye, the Packers promoted Hill to the active roster on Monday.

Last year, the Packers signed DuJuan Harris to the practice squad at midseason. By the end of the year, he was their go-to ball-carrier.

"You see that a lot with Green Bay," he said. "I didn't know that until I got here and (started) hearing stories. It's awesome that the players that are on the practice squad, they bump them up and they trust them."

In college, Hill was an all-around back. He caught 21 passes as a senior and led the team with 31 grabs as a junior. Plus, critically for how the Packers run their offense, he's been an asset in pass protection.

"That was the main thing that kept me in San Diego," Hill said. "Coaches told me that after I was released. They kept me in for a third-down back most of the time. When I was in college, I actually called the protection calls for the offense. So, that really prepared me for this."

Whether Hill is just an insurance policy or if he'll get a chance to play remains to be seen. All he needs is a chance. That's all Harris needed, after all.

"This place is really special for me now," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be here for a long time."

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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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