Before enrolling at Idaho State in 1992, Hill had been homeless in Tremont, Utah, for most of the previous 18 months. He was in the process of getting his second divorce and had monthly child-support payments of $650, which was more than half his monthly income as a supply-room clerk. Unable to find cheap housing, Hill lived in the back of his '88 pickup truck.
During a weekend trip to nearby Pocatello, Idaho, in late '91, he met Camille Hayter, a schoolteacher whose parents and husband had been killed in a plane crash. "I told her I still wanted to go to college, play football and become a schoolteacher," Hill says. "A few months after we met, she told me if I was serious about doing that, I could move in with her and she would help me."
Shortly after arriving at Idaho State, Hill, who has since married Hayter, met with Kyle Whittingham, a Bengal assistant at the time. "When I told him I graduated from high school in '79 and wanted to play football, he looked a little startled," says Hill, who played offensive guard and defensive tackle at Bear River High School in Tremont. "But a week later he called me back to ask if I was sure I wanted to go through with it."
Hill has not wavered in his commitment. On Oct. 21, the day after he separated his right clavicle playing touch football, he suited up against Boise State and made a career-high three tackles. "It's not quite a Rudy story," says Hill. "Rudy got a sack. I'm still looking for my first."
L Is for...
When John Smith, Utah State's first-year coach, joined the Idaho coaching staff as defensive coordinator in 1982, he started using the middle initial, L, to avoid being confused with two other people named John Smith in the Aggie athletic department. For 13 years Smith has refused to reveal what the L stands for. However, after several strenuous practices this fall, Utah State players reached their own conclusion, and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ben Holbrook was conscripted to deliver the news to Smith. "Coach, I have something to tell you, but please don't hold it against me," Holbrook said. "The guys have decided that your middle name must be Lucifer."