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July 01, 2009

Keep an eye on this one

First, a disclaimer.

   I don't do a lot of football recruiting stuff -- it really isn't an option from August through April, other than signing day and a few things here and there -- so my first contact with most of MSU's football recruits typically comes when they arrive at camp in August.
   That said, I used to cover this stuff extensively as an LSJ stringer, so I know a unique case when I see one. And Nick Hill, MSU's latest verbal commitment, is a unique case. It's been a while since I've encountered a more interesting interview, recruit or otherwise.
    The questions weren't interesting, by the way. They included such gems as: "Why did you pick MSU?"
    Hill launched into a detailed recap of a speech Mark Dantonio gave him after MSU's June 12 football camp. Education first, Dantonio told him. Competition, on and off the field. Community service.
    "Being a role model when in the community," Hill said. "Being someone for kids to look up to, not someone who uses profanity around little kids and stuff like that."
    Then we got into Hill's background. Chelsea, for those who don't know, is about 17 miles from Ann Arbor. Hill has cheered for Michigan and ignored MSU his entire life. He hung around the team, became close friends with Mike Hart and others.
    "A year ago," Hill said, "nah, I never would've gone to Michigan State."
    Then came a year of serious recruiting from the Spartans, led by staff ace Dan Enos. Then MSU's camp, in which Hill showed what Dantonio and Co. were looking for and earned an offer. Two weeks later, he took it.
    "I remember Mike's senior year, they beat Michigan State and he said Michigan State is Michigan's little brother," Hill said. "I plan to help turn that around."
    That's a pretty severe change of heart. But then, Michigan has not offered Hill. They aren't yet ready to make that commitment. Or they don't think he's good enough. Or they don't feel he fits what they want to do on offense. Or they simply have too many skill players already committed.
    Whatever it is, I'm guessing he would have found it difficult to resist a U-M offer. Maybe I'm wrong. As is, he is fully committed to the other side. And do you suppose he'll be an asset when Michigan week comes around during his stay in East Lansing?
    There's no telling what Hill will do at MSU. He is fast, shifty and productive and has drawn comparisons to his physical clone, Hart.
    "I'm a little faster than Mike, but yeah, I think we have some similarities," Hill said.
    Confidence is not an issue here.
    "Return man, running back, I'll be competing for both spots as a freshman," Hill said. "(The Spartans) have a lot of good players already, but my mindset is, you have to beat me out. I'm gonna come and compete and try to get on the field."
    If you think about it, Hill is a perfect complement to some of the bigger backs on MSU's roster. They don't have anyone exactly like him. His numbers and measurables speak for themselves. But the personality is the biggest reason I have to guess you'll be hearing from him again, a lot.

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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter
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