Junior receiver Hill to stay with Arizona football for senior season
File Photo/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Austin Hill, No. 29, catches the ball as UA beat OSU 59-38 on Sept. 8, 2012.
Arizona football looks like it will have a stacked receiving corps for the 2014 season.
Arizona redshirt junior receiver Austin Hill announced Tuesday after practice that he will not forgo his senior season to go to the NFL, and will return to the Wildcats next year.
Hill was just cleared this week to practice for the first time in roughly six months. He has missed the entire 2013 season with a knee injury that he suffered in April.
“I’m not afraid to say I’m definitely coming back next season,” Hill said. “I’m not done with college yet.”
Hill was the Wildcats’ leading receiver in 2012, reeling in 81 catches for 1,364 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-3 receiver was expected to play a major role on this year’s squad and, considering his strong sophomore season last year, might have had his eyes on the NFL once the 2013 season came to a conclusion. But after tearing his ACL in the spring, Hill’s perspective and goals immediately changed.
“This injury has opened my eyes to how hard I could have been working,” Hill said. “I’m actually kind of grateful this did happen, because it opened my mind to the world we live in and the sport we play. Anything can happen.”
As for this season, Hill said he is unsure when or if he will return. He said his knee feels great and doesn’t want to rule out Saturday’s home game against Washington State, but that it seems highly unlikely that he will play.
Throughout the whole process, Hill asked the trainers not to give him a timetable as for when they expect him to return. Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez announced on Monday that Hill was cleared to practice, but said the decision as to when he returns to play is completely his own.
It seems that neither Rodriguez nor any of the coaches will pressure or ask Hill about when he is going to play; all they will do is coach him and make sure he’s getting the proper treatment.
“That’s above my pay grade,” said receivers coach Tony Dews about when he plans on seeing Hill on the field. “If he came back early and reinjured [his knee], I’d feel like crap.”
Hill redshirted in 2010 during his true freshman season. Because of that, it is unlikely the NCAA will grant Hill a medical redshirt for this season, which would have made him eligible to play through the 2015 season.
With Hill returning for another year, the Wildcats’ group of receivers looks to be one of the deepest and most talented in the Pac-12 conference. Hill will join a position that plans on having a strong recruiting class and will hopefully be bringing back current leading freshman receivers Samajie Grant and Nate Phillips to go along with current sophomores David Richards and Johnny Jackson.
There are also transfers DaVonte’ Neal and Cayleb Jones. Neal and Jones are sitting out this season due to the transfer rules.
“There are going to be some fireworks next year,” Hill said. “But that’s far off right now. I’m just trying to get my own thing done, but we’ll be ready for next year, and right now I got to get my receivers ready for this next coming game against Washington State.”
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella