West's Hill decides he's going to be a Cowboy

News-DemocratFebruary 1, 2014 

Brian Hill's football recruiting stock resembled a barely noticed company that had displayed little growth in the market for several years.

But when Hill's performance took off his senior year, his opportunities became much more attractive to the point where he finally accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Wyoming.

"I knew I had to come out and explode onto the scene after my junior year because I was pretty average," said Hill, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound running back and safety. "My confidence was probably the biggest factor. I actually believed every time I touched the ball I was going to score a touchdown, no matter who we played."

Hill, recruited as a running back but also effective on defense, will sign with the Cowboys on Wednesday.

"This kid worked his butt off and it paid off," West coach Cameron Pettus said. "He got bigger and stronger and doors opened for him because of his work. I'm very, very proud of him."

Hill originally made a verbal commitment to Indiana State, but as more coaches watched his game film the offers got bigger and better. Wyoming made an offer and others quickly followed.

"Then I got one from Eastern Michigan, then Northern Illinois and Georgia State," said Hill, who also had interest from Utah and several other schools. "Then I had a bunch of options."

Hill said Indiana State seemed liked a good fit until his recruiting trip to Wyoming, located in Laramie.

"It felt just like the Indiana State visit, a lot of love there and the team felt like a family," said Hill, who also visited Northern Illinois before making his final decision. "Wyoming was the one for me. The team already treated me like I was part of the family when we went down there and that's what jumped out at me the most.

"The distance was an issue at first, but it was so beautiful and now my mom can't wait to go down there and see it. We're excited."

Hill helped himself with a tremendous senior season as he made a major impact on offense, defense and special teams.

He led the Maroons in scoring (23 touchdowns) and rushing with 778 yards on only 88 carries, an 8.8-yard average. Hill was second in receiving with 10 catches for 332 yards and six TDs.

A safety on defense, he tied for the team lead with three interceptions and was fourth in tackles with 60, including one sack and two fumble recoveries.

The game that really put him on the map was West's 55-28 win over O'Fallon. Hill returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown, caught a 20-yard TD pass and ran for a pair of touchdowns. He had two interceptions and eight tackles on defense

"He's just so darned big and such an explosive football player on both sides of the ball," Pettus said. "I think his information and his film started getting out there and that really helped him. Wyoming is looking at him at running back, but they say he could also play defense, too."

Wyoming's new head coach is Craig Bohl, coming off of three straight Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national championships at North Dakota State.

One of the assistant coaches who helped recruit Hill was former Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin all-state player Kenni Burns.

Once Hill made up his mind, there was still another difficult experience ahead.

"It feels like a huge weight off your shoulders when you finally pick (a college), but the hardest thing for me was telling Indiana State on Wednesday," said Hill, who spoke to the ISU head coach and recruiting coordinator in person at Belleville West. "It was hard because I really had love for that school and that program. That was probably the best relationship I had our of all the recruiters was with Indiana State."

Pettus said the reason for Hill's rise up the recruiting charts was an increase in size and strength and production.

"He really took the ownership of the team on and was just such a great leader," Pettus said. "He's always had a great work ethic. He just really blossomed, just kept getting bigger and stronger and faster."

Wyoming was 5-7 this season, including a 3-5 mark in the Mountain West Conference.

Former O'Fallon player B.J. Hendrix, Jr., is a redshirt sophomore safety at Wyoming who transferred from Rochester (Minn.) Community College.

The Maroons' other Division I football recruits are linebacker Tori Millender (Southern Illinois University Carbondale) and offensive lineman Nick Allen (Tennessee-Martin).

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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