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April 4, 2011

Hill turns to veterans

During his prep career at West Lowndes (Miss.) High School, Mississippi State's Brandon Hill often found himself lining up at multiple positions. On any given night, the Bulldog redshirt freshman would play receiver, running back, tight end, linebacker, safety or defensive end.

Now having gone through a redshirt year at MSU, Hill has settled in at just one position - tight end. But naturally, the demands at this level still present a hefty challenge.

"It has been challenging yet rewarding at the same time," said the 6-foot-2 and 235-pound Hill. "I feel like every day I am trying to get better and digest the plays and learning as we go. It has been difficult because we work hard. But the rewarding part is you get better in the end."

This spring, Hill has worked himself into the tight end rotation and has earned reps with the first and second-team offensive units. He often goes in motion or lines up wide to present matchup problems for opposing defenders. His first step to get to this point, he said, was to learn the playbook thoroughly.

"The toughest thing is learning the plays and you have to make sure you have that down first," said Hill. "But as we go on, my athleticism helps me to play the game better."

What has also aided in Hill's development is the veteran leadership at his position. The Bulldogs return a pair of seniors at tight end in Marcus Green and Kendric Cook and Hill has used that leadership to his advantage.

"Any way they mentor me or any advice they give me, I just take it and run with it," said Hill. "Also, I try to build on what they are teaching me. I make sure I stay close to them and under their wing. Those guys have a lot of SEC experience and they are great leaders to learn from."

Which is what Hill did in 2010 when he redshirted during his true freshman campaign. He soaked in that veteran advice and got an up-close view of how Green, Cook and 2010 senior tight end Brandon Henderson went about their business on the practice field and on game day.

"It's been interesting," said Hill. "But our coaches get you ready and they get you prepared. You have to prove yourself every day out here and it's the same in the fall. I did redshirt last year but I made sure I got better every day so I would be prepared for this year. I studied our other tight ends and just tried to follow their lead."

And this spring Hill has done just that. He has displayed that athleticism in the open field and has become a steady target for the Bulldog signal callers. That progression is something Hill plans to continue in the fall so he can perform his team duties at the highest level.

"I just plan to work hard," said Hill. "Anytime my name is called, my job is to play to the best of my ability and do the best I can to help the team. That is what it is all about on our team."


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