In many respects, Alvin Hill was your typical under-the-radar football prospect.
The 5-foot-11 ½, 180-pound cornerback entered this week with minimal name recognition among recruiting followers and zero Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offers. Lack of attention, however, never seemed to bother Hill.
“It’s not a priority to be above the radar,” said Hill, a rising senior at Luella High in Locust Grove, Ga. “I had confidence where I was at. I knew I was better. I’m not arrogant -- I was humble. But whatever comes, I [was just going to] make the best of it and make the best choice.”
After an appearance at Maryland’s football camp earlier this week, Hill finally got what he had hoped would eventually come – a Division I scholarship. On Thursday, he accepted the Terps’ offer.
“It feels good, like it’s a relief,” Hill said. “And it gives you more confidence. It makes you feel like you did the right things.”Luella coach Nick Vasilchek knew it was just a matter of time before a major college football program recognized Hill’s potential. Hill moved from Miami to Georgia before his sophomore year, but played sparingly on Luella’s varsity as a 10th-grader.
As a junior, Hill set the school record for interceptions with six, in addition to recording 43 tackles and breaking up five passes. On offense, the future Terp rushed for 127 yards on 20 carries, and caught six passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. For his efforts, Hill was selected to Georgia’s Region 2-AAAAA first-team defense.
“He was our big-play guy on offense and defense,” Vasilchek said. “He single-handedly made big plays for us in games all year. He was a one-man wrecking crew for us honestly. He was our first-ever permanent captain. We usually have game-by-game captains, but he was captain for the whole season because he’s a quiet leader who’s going to make plays and make everyone better around him.”
Maryland was one of the first BCS-conference programs to take an interest in Hill. Terps offensive line coach Tom Brattan had recruited Hill’s older brother – former Luella defensive back Detrick Bonner. Bonner picked Virginia Tech, but Brattan’s relationships in the area gave him a leg up with Hill.
“We already built the relationship” months ago, Hill said. “It was fun. He’s a spirited person. He made jokes with me. He made me feel comfortable. We had, not really a debate, but a talk about who’s going to win the NBA finals. It was kind of fun.”
The turning point for Hill in his recruitment came at a Nike Sparq camp in Atlanta last spring, when he clocked a 4.54 electronically-timed 40 – the second-fastest time at the event.
“His vertical leap was also just off the charts,” Vasilchek said. “After the Nike Elite camp, he went to some football skills camps. Basically every time out he was a one-man gang. He pretty much locked it down. After the first camp, his stock was on the rise. But Maryland did a good job early. They were the first school and he felt comfortable with them.
"He was not a guy who wanted 55 different [offers]. [He said], ‘The first one, I’m going with it.’ He stuck to his word. A lot of other schools were going to come later this summer. They wanted him to work out and evaluate him. He felt good about Maryland and just [went] with it.”
Hill, who had an offer from Tennessee-Chattanooga, was receiving interest from Georgia, Middle Tennessee State, Tennessee and UAB. Heading into the Maryland camp, he thought it was “50-50” that the Terps would offer. But a strong performance clinched the offer, and an enjoyable campus tour ensured Hill’s commitment. Now Hill said he can’t wait to reward the Terps coaches for their faith in him.
“I know I’m going to bring hard work,” Hill said. “I’m pretty sure we can build a better team and be able to compete for more bowl championships.”
Handout photo of Alvin Hill courtesy of Luella High School