It would be accurate to say that Pendleton, S.C., defensive tackle Michael Hill isn’t your typical athlete who weighs in excess of 300 pounds. Sure, there’s the scholarship offers that have floated in from major BCS programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Georgia Tech and South Carolina, in addition to Florida.
There’s a reason Hill has received all the early interest from college football powerhouses around the country: He’s a big guy who can move.
The current track and field season is proof enough of that fact.
“He’s throwing shot put and discus for us right now,” said Pendleton head football coach and athletic director Paul Sutherland. “He’s the highlight of our fat man relay team – Michael can really run for 315 pounds.”
But if the sight of oversized throwers hustling around the track with a baton in hand isn’t enough to get the blood pumping about what type of ability Hill possesses on the football field, Sutherland has an answer.
“[Hill is] your prototypical three-technique tackle,” he said. “He had 25 tackles for loss as a junior. He’s 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, wears a size 17 shoe and he’s only 16 years old. His upside – with his age – the sky is the limit.”
Although Florida met its needs on the defensive line in the recruiting cycle which just ended, massive, space-eating tackles are always at a premium. The Gators were quick to jump into the mix for Hill earlier this month, despite the fact Pendleton High School sits only about five minutes away from the campus of Clemson University.
“They’ve been in constant contact with him,” Sutherland said of the Florida coaching staff. “Coach Muschamp got on the phone and made the offer [on Feb. 9].”
Michigan was the latest program to jump in the mix for Hill, extending a scholarship opportunity on Wednesday morning. Hill has already made visits to Clemson and South Carolina, and has a trip to Tennessee on tap for next weekend. At this point, a drive down to Gainesville has not been set, but is high on the priority list, according to Sutherland.
“We’re definitely going to get him on campus down there,” Sutherland said. “I told Michael, ‘you need to visit Gainesville.’”
In any case, it doesn’t appear Hill is in any rush to make a college choice, according to his coach.
“He’s not close to deciding,” Sutherland said. “He’s focusing on academics – Michael has solid grades, just made the honor roll – we’ll see how many schools he gets to over the summer.”
A timeline is starting to come into focus, however, regarding how Hill will start to narrow down his list of favorites.
“After spring practice [in May], we’ll have the summer planned out,” Sutherland said. “We hope to get it down to seven schools – South Carolina and Clemson, and five others.”
It is true that the in-state programs are “strong players” in the hunt for Hill, according to Sutherland, but there’s no assurances he’ll stay inside the Palmetto State for college.
“Staying in-state isn’t necessarily a priority,” Sutherland said. “His dad mentioned to me he would like to see Michael get away for college.”
That disclosure certainly comes as welcome news from the Florida perspective of things. This much is clear early on – Michael Hill figures to be one of the most hotly-recruited prospects in the Southeast as the process starts moving closer to the ever-crucial spring evaluation period in April and May.