August 8, 2011

The Grove lands Hilton for Ole Miss

The Grove has won many hearts over the years.

Usually, however, the 10-acre plot of land in the middle of Ole Miss' campus is full of partying fans when it performs its magic.

Mike Hilton visited The Grove in July, when there were likely more squirrels in the trees than students walking from class to class. Still, the three-star athlete from Tyrone (Sandy Creek), Ga., felt a stir. A month later, the 5-foot-9, 175-pounder committed to Ole Miss, already looking forward to the day when he walks through The Grove on his way to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

"When I went down there in July for their senior camp, I met some of the players and saw some of the students," Hilton said. "The thing that caught me was The Grove. The Grove was amazing. I just fell in love with the campus.

"I think it's going to be amazing. Fans screaming your name, screaming your number, having family and friends there, it's going to be amazing."

Hilton chose the Rebels over Kentucky, Mississippi State and others, a group that included Southern Mississippi, Cincinnati, Marshall and Western Kentucky. Hilton had first planned to announce his decision late last week. He took a few extra days "to make sure. I talked to my parents, talking to my high school coach and I prayed about it. I know my decision is where I want to be.

"When I went down there, seeing the campus, I was like, 'This might be it.' I saw other campuses but I didn't get the same feel I got at Ole Miss. It was a hard decision, but at the same time, it was easy."

Hilton, who plays running back and cornerback at the high school level, said Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt told him Rebel defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix and running backs coach Derrick Nix "are fighting for me on both sides of the ball. I don't think there's a set position. I think that's what makes me a unique prospect. I can play on either side of the ball."

Hilton said he doesn't necessarily have a preference concerning where he plays at Ole Miss.

"It really doesn't matter," Hilton said. "I just want to get on the field and make an impact. When I close my eyes, I'm playing offense. I think if I were playing in the pros, I'd probably be a cornerback, but I like having the ball in my hands. I just don't know."

Hilton said he might take some official visits before signing a binding letter-of-intent in February, "but I'm 99.9 percent Ole Miss."

Hilton is the ninth prospect to commit to Ole Miss for the 2012 signing class.

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