Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Your New Gophers: Vincent Hill

PJS Note: In an effort to prepare you for the myriad new faces on Tim Brewster's 2008 Golden Gophers, we're going to methodically brief you on each newcomer. To Brewster's credit the Gophers compiled their best recruiting class in recent memory (17th best in the country by Rivals' rankings).

Your New Gophers Wide Receiver: Vincent Hill

If Tim Brewster is going to be successful at Minnesota, and specifically with his desire to install a spread offense, he is going to need play makers at the wide receiver position. While losing Michael Floyd stings, Brewster landed his fair share of talent at the wide receiving position.

Brewster added two Rivals 4-star wide receivers, including Vincent Hill graduated high school in Fort Washington, Md, and subsequently attended Milford Academy Prep in New York. Hill's eligibility will be that of a true freshman, and could be red shirted, but with the dearth of talent at the wide receiver position that is unlikely.

The 5'11", 185 pound wide out was pursued by Syracuse, Temple, Utah, Virginia and Illinois, though it appeared that his two top choices were the Gophers and Illini, both of which offered scholarships. For the Gophers to win a battle with the suddenly tough Illini is a good sign.

In this
Rivals article, Hill calls himself a speed guy, stating that before he had knee surgery he ran a 4.35 40. Now he says he's in the low 4.4s. In that same article, Hill indicates the Illini were his favorites at that time. Brewster and wide receiver coach George McDonald began recruiting Hill relatively late in the game but were able to secure a commitment without Hill ever visiting the Minneapolis campus.

While Hill was recruited as a wide receiver,
Rivals speculates here that Hill could potentially be used in the defensive backfield, an area where we all know the Gophers desperately need help. We'll know more about this once camp battles begin, but Hill seems to like the idea according to this article.
"One of the things I really liked about Minnesota is that they are going to give me a chance to play both ways. Defense is where I have always played and it is really where my heart is. I pretty much played quarterback on offense up until my sophomore year, but he already had a good quarterback and my coach asked me to be a weapon at receiver. So I have not really been playing receiver for very long. I am really excited that they want to give me a shot to play on both sides of the ball. They have some young guys at corner back who look good, but they still need some help back there and I know that I can do that."

Talent is talent, and if Hill can contribute in the defensive backfield, and he excels there, then maybe he can be a two-way player.

The criticisms of Hill mostly center around his diminutive size. ESPN Insider's take suggests he will need to add bulk, but they suggest "Hill is going to be a serious threat in the vertical passing game and his route-running skills make him very productive all over the field."

With the graduation of the enigmatic Ernie Wheelright and the departure of Tray Herndon, Minnesota's already thin receiving corps needs an infusion of talent. Hill, who is probably still learning the position, is one candidate to give the Gophers increased production in the spread offense.


Eric said...

Check the Gopher blog on the Trib - another 2007 recruit - Harold Holwell was dismissed from the team.

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