Giants safety Will Hill was a once-promising Jersey City high school football star who's road to stardom was derailed by, well, him.
In 2007, several college scouting sources, including ESPN, rated Hill as one of the top incoming freshmen in the nation. Some had him No. 1 overall. That was the high point.
College success was not as forthcoming, however. From 2008 through 2010, Hill played strong safety for Urban Meyer at the University of Florida and was a key contributor on the Gators' 2009 BCS Championship team.
In 2010, Hill disappointed as a full-time starter and got himself suspended two games for violating team rules at one point. He decided to forgo his senior season and go for the pros. Here comes the low point.
As the 2011 NFL Draft approached, Hill was mocked a mid-to-late rounder but his behavior in college off the field at Florida (documented in explicit correspondences via Twitter) turned a lot of teams away. Throw in his horrendous combine and pro day performances and it was no shock that Hill not only went undrafted, but received no offers in the UDFA market afterward.
Last year, he signed to play for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League before he got the invite from the Giants in May to come to camp. Hill impressed the Giants to the point where he made the final cut as reserve DB and special teamer.
The shoe didn't take long to drop for Hill. In October, the NFL suspended him four games for violating the league's policy on PEDs (in his case, Adderall). This week, Hill was hit with his second suspension in less than a year. He'll miss the first four games for testing positive for marijuana.
The Giants seem willing to ride Hill's problems out with him. He appears to be confident he'll be here for the long-term.
Hill elaborated his issues to the media at Quest this morning...
Q: So what happened?
A: Just going through a lot of stressful times through last season, and I failed a lot of drug tests.
Q: With the initial drug?
A: Yea. It carried over to this season. Just trying to fight it and obviously the league made the decision for this season.
Q: You were very open last year about putting your problems in the past. Is it disappointing for you to have this?
A: Yeah, it’s definitely disappointing. For us being professional athletes, you’d think the people that will have your back would really have your back. But you know, coming up in this environment out here, I had a lot of stress from my environment. That was the only way I knew how to cope with it until I got with the team. They put me in some clinic and that helped me out.
Q: This is an old incident?
A: Yea, it’s definitely old. Nothing recent.
Q: So why didn’t this come up last year?
A: We were trying to fight it, basically. The team stepped in and tried to do the best they could so this would not happen, but ultimately the league made the decision.
Q: This sounds like it’s a stressful situation. You’re not saying it was a bad test or anything.
A: No. It’s just I’ve been through so many stressful times, and growing up the way I grew up, it was just second nature. Growing up, walking down the street and people are putting guns in your face; it’s stressful. You really don’t know how to deal with situations like that when you’re faced with it.
Q: Are you concerned about your standing with the team now, having this suspension?
A: I talked to my team and they just told me to keep moving forward and keep being positive. Just take the full suspension and leave it at that. Just don’t have any more mishaps.
Q: So you think your job is safe?
A: Yea, I think I’ll be around.
Q: Is it going to be a distraction for you to have to go through training camp and preseason only to have to stop?
A: It’s going to be hard, but I wouldn’t say it’s going to be a total distraction from what I need to do for this team. I know all the plays; I just need to keep at it. I would love to be out here to help this team and to help this organization win. I just have to root from the sidelines.
Q: Could you explain to us what the stressful part of it was? Was it the NFL pressures?
A: It has nothing to do with football. It was more so family members, people reaching their hand out thinking you’re an ATM, and people thinking you owe them something. There was a situation where I visited my hometown and a guy pulled a gun out on me right in the park for some money. How do you really deal with those situations? You really can’t. I just dealt with it the best way I knew how.
Q: Did this situation come up when the Adderall came out or was it separate testing?
A: It was a different test.
Q: In some strange way, would it have been easier for you if you had not been playing here?
A: I say that to some people, but really you can’t choose where you are. It’s a blessing to be here and I know right versus wrong. The Giants helped me the best way they could. They got me help and helped me see other ways to cope with my problems.
Q: Since this is an older situation, how confident are you that it’s all behind you and it’s in your past? Do you still fight against that kind of thing?
A: I don’t fight against it at all. The Giants helped me out a lot. I wasn’t here a lot for the spring practices. I was in Boston at a clinic where they helped me. I’ve also been going to an outpatient in Parsippany. I met a lot of people there, made some friends and some therapists that are on my team now and that will help me out with situations like that.
Q: Did you stay at the clinic in Boston?
Q: And that was this past off-season?
A: Yeah. I stayed for about a month.
Q: You hear about going into these things. Did you go in open minded?
A: Yes. It wasn’t forced upon me. They asked if I wanted to go and I told them yeah. I definitely wanted to get away from here, for one. Get away from the stressful situations and go out there to learn a thing or two.
Q: I’m sure you met a lot of people who have—
A: They had a lot worse issues than I had. It made me feel a lot better.
Q: What month was that?
A: I went in on Easter and came back around April 19th or 20th.
Q: It seems like your life is a lot more straightened out now. As a player, how do you feel this has impacted your development and growth? You’re still a young player and you have a lot to learn.
A: It impacted a lot because I wasn’t able to get around the team in the spring like I wanted to. But then I also had a lot of team support. They were keeping in contact with me and helping me out, especially when I got back. But it damaged a lot, because as a young player you want to get out there as much as you can and showcase as much as you can.
Q: Do you sense any difference, as far as them working with you but they know the first four games you won’t be here?
A: I definitely could take a lot more reps. Yesterday the starters had maybe 23 reps and I had about 11 reps. I see that there is a drastic change.