Hill chooses Florida
St. Peter's safety joins talented Gator recruiting class
Posted: Thursday September 20, 2007 8:11PM; Updated: Friday September 21, 2007 12:15PM
NEW YORK -- Last Sunday evening, with his official visit to Gainesville coming to an end, Will Hill III, the do-everything senior from St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) stopped in to Florida coach Urban Meyer's office to share a few words before dinner. After a few minutes, Hill's parents engaged in a sidebar conversation with Florida assistant coaches Steve Addazio and Chuck Heater, leaving their son to speak with the championship coach, one-on-one.
"He just kept staring at me a few feet away, and he kept repeating, 'Will Hill! Will Hill! Will Hill!'" said Hill of Meyer's star gazing. "I just said, 'Coach I'm coming here, and he just hugged me and was so happy. He had a strong hold on me."
That hold on Hill, who is No. 5 in the SI/Takkle Top 100 player rankings, actually developed two months earlier, when Hill and his father, Will Jr., took an unoffical visit to Gainesville in July for the Meyer's Friday Night Lights recruiting festival. With his staff's teeth sunk into Hill's mind, Meyer and the Gators were always the top choice for the strong safety. "My mind was on them since that trip, but I like the process," said Hill. "I'm happy that I can play now. But homestly, things were great throughout."
As first reported by SI.com Wednesday night, Hill made public his commitment to Florida at the ESPNZone in Times Square on Thursday evening. Dressed in a Gator blue dress shirt, a bright orange tie emblazoned with the Gator logo that he bought in the school bookstore for $25 and wearing a beige sports coat, Hill said it was the level of talent that Florida brought to the Friday Night Lights that convinced him to come aboard. "I went around and I was talking to kids and they were the top one or two in the country at their position," said Hill. "They asked me where I was going, and I asked them. It just hit me that this is going to be some program with the top kids all coming. The games, they say down there, are the easy part. I want to compete for it in practice. I cannot wait to get into the fight down there."
Prior to the Florida trip last weekend, the Hill family had planned to visit USC before making a decision, but the atmosphere of the Tennessee game and his mother's ability to soak up the thrill of the Swamp sealed the deal. "I'm not much of a flyer, so that was the end of the road doing one visit," said Grace Hill. "They could have come back and told me about USC but I was staying home either way."
It turned out, after discussing the decision with his father and St. Peter's Prep football coach, Rich Hansen, no more trips would be needed. The recruiting road for the star had ended in Gainesville. "Coach Hansen just said he was happy to be my coach now instead of my agent, too," Hill said. "I feel at home as a Gator."