Speed. It's said to be the one thing that can't be taught to an athlete, and it's the one quality that the University of Oregon looks for above almost any other in their football players. And, in watching the American squad's Wednesday practice for the NFLPA Bowl, former Ducks cornerback Troy Hill has it.
The ESPN U crew was on-site for the practices and former NFL general manager Bill Polian touts Hill as one the top recruits at the NFLPA Bowl. Though the entire offensive unit struggled at Wednesday's practice, the wide receivers covered by Hill were unable to make any hay in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills against him. The Oregon corner lined up on the right and the left side at different points and didn't seem to miss a beat.
Hill's speed and instincts make him a promising prospect, even though he's being overshadowed by his college teammate, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Unfortunately for Hill, he had an off-field issue that seemed to have been quickly remedied, and his perceived slight frame (5'11", 170) will need some added weight.
As a senior corner, Hill had an interception, a forced fumble, 59 tackles and 16 passes defensed in 2014. If Polian's take on Hill comes to fruition and he has a good showing at Saturday's game, an NFL team should be more than willing to scoop him up. As we all know, corners are in high demand by teams these days, and for his size, Hill shows a willingness to tackle, while adding a little bit of kick return ability too.
I spoke to Hill for a couple of minutes on Wednesday, here's our conversation:
AC: Good practice today. How are you recovering from the National Championship? Too soon (laughs)?
TH: Ah, no (smiles). It's all good. I mean, it was a great experience, honestly, because we were blessed to be one of the first to compete in that playoff system and we got the opportunity. I couldn't be more proud of my team, but it's hard in my senior year losing that championship. I mean, I'm proud of my team and how far we came.
AC: You were doing some great stuff on the outside today, how comfortable are you kicking inside and doing some slot work at the next level?
TH: I mean, I could do both, honestly. But, I just never really got that teaching in the slot. I feel like I can maneuver and stuff, I'll just learn how to play it. I can do both, honestly.
AC: Are you most comfortable in man, press? What's kind of your forte there?
TH: Ah, a little of both. I never really got the proper 'off technique' teaching because we 'press' a lot. But, I mean, I can do a little of both. I like to see the quarterback sometimes, so I like to change it up. Most comfortable with playing press though.
AC: What would you say, going forward in the draft process, is your biggest strength and then maybe a point, going into the draft that you would like to say 'hey, I'm working on this'?
TH: Probably my speed is my strength and my ability to flip my hips and stuff. My feet. And, my weakness is probably just getting stronger and putting on more weight.
AC: Thanks for the time. Good luck this weekend.
TH: Thank you.
My apologies for some of the language used in music through the first clip, but that one seemed to have a more comprehensive look at his highlight plays. If you're at work or in front of kids, you might want to keep the volume down a bit while that one is on.