April 9, 2002

Junior Focus: Tony Hills Q&A

Alief Elsik tight end Tony Hills possesses a rare combination of size and speed that is making him one of the country’s top prospects. The 6-6, 245-pounder is getting letters from virtually every school in the country and he already has a handful of scholarship offers, with several more sure to pour in in the near future. Hills, whose father played at Arizona St. and for the Houston Oilers, is the top-ranked player on our Lone Star Recruiting Top 100.

 

Jason Suchomel: Tony, our new rankings just came out and you’re No. 1 in the state. What do you think about that?

 

Tony Hills, Jr.: It’s pretty nice. I’m pretty shocked about it.

 

JS: So how many offers are you up to now?

 

THJ: Roughly about seven or eight.

 

JS: Who all has offered, off the top of your head?

 

THJ: Florida, Iowa State, Iowa, Colorado, LSU, Oklahoma State. Those are the ones I can think of right now. Baylor has also.

 

JS: Have you thought about a top five yet?

 

THJ: Yeah. I’d say it would be UT, LSU, Colorado, Iowa and I’m thinking about Texas Tech.

 

JS: What is it about UT that you like?

 

THJ: I like the tradition that they have. And you can look at the players that they put out going back to the great Earl Campbell.

 

JS: What about LSU, same question?

 

THJ: I like the fact that they’re program is rising and they’re getting ready to have some good things happen.

 

JS: And Colorado?

 

THJ: I like the fight that they have and the tenacity to never quit. That’s something that I find interesting.

 

JS: And Iowa?

 

THJ: Well I feel like they recruit really well and that’s going to help their program rise. The programs that I named are all on the rise and that’s something I want to be a part of.

 

JS: What about Texas Tech?

 

THJ: The same thing, they’re coming up. Plus I like that they throw the ball a lot.

 

JS: Is the whole recruiting process and the fact that you’re such a hot prospect at all overwhelming?

 

THJ: I’m just trying to take it all in stride. It’s not really overwhelming at all.

 

JS: On average, how many letters would you say that you get each week?

 

THJ: I’d have to say no less than 30. It takes some time, but I go through every single one of them.

 

JS: What do you think are your strong points that are making you such a hot prospect?

 

THJ: From what I’ve been told it would probably be the intensity that I bring on the field. I guess my size plays a part but mostly it’s just a love for the game. I love the sport with all of my heart.

 

JS: That’s what separates the good ones from the great ones. Your coach also talked about your intensity and your work ethic. Where do you get that from or what do you attribute it to?

 

THJ: A whole lot of people really, on and off the field. My mom and my dad … a lot of my family. Tony Gonzales and Shannon Sharpe, my two favorite tight ends. Earl Campbell, Mike Singletary. All the great ones played with a love and an intensity. What I like to do is I get film or read books about them and see the things that they did to make it and I apply it to my life.

 

JS: So do you know Earl Campbell personally since your dad is a former Houston Oiler?

 

THJ: No, but I do know Santana Dotson. I met him through one of my best friends. I’ve been working out with him every once in a while since the eighth grade.

 

JS: Is your friend Alonzo Dotson?

 

THJ: Yes sir.

 

JS: You two must be pretty tight then. Do you two ever talk about going somewhere together?

 

THJ: Yeah we do. We talk about going to the same college. It’s not something we’re dead set on. It would be nice if we did but we know we might end up going our separate ways. It’s always a possibility. I’ve known him since I was in the fifth grade. We played in a youth league together.

 

JS: What areas are you going to work on this summer or next fall to become an even better player?

 

THJ: One thing is that I’m going to go to a lot of camps this summer. I want to work on my speed and my cuts – being able to stop on a dime. Those are two aspects, plus I can always get stronger.

 

JS: Which camps are you planning on going to?

 

THJ: As many as I can. I haven’t limited to anything. As much money as I can accumulate will determine which ones I go to.

 

JS: Is staying in the state a priority for you at all?

 

THJ: It is. I wouldn’t mind venturing out but I guess I would like to stay close to home. I wouldn’t say Texas and Tech have an advantage but it’s convenient. But LSU is right there too.

 

JS: Do you follow the recruiting stuff at all?

 

THJ: I venture on the internet every once in a while when I’m at school.

 

JS: So I’m assuming everyone’s recruiting you as a pure tight end?

 

THJ: I’ve figured that colleges, in the beginning in particular, that they might put me at defensive end because I did play that for a little while. I have a friend that plays for UTEP and he started out at tight end then they moved him to the scout team to play defensive end.

 

JS: Do you have a preference on where you’d like to play?

 

THJ: It really wouldn’t matter. I like both of them. I’m just kind of in that wait and see mode right now.

 

JS: When it comes down to it, what are going to be the determining factors for you? Do you want to go to a winning program or a school that throws the ball a lot, maybe early playing time?

 

THJ: The first factor would be how the program is academically. That will be the major factor. As far as football goes, I’d like to go to a program where the tight end is one of the main targets in their system.

 

JS: Have you thought about a timeline, whether or not you want to take all your visits or maybe make a quick decision?

 

THJ: I don’t know really. I’m open but I don’t really see myself committing early. I want to take in as much information and soak it in and evaluate all the colleges equally before I decide what I’m going to do.

 

JS: Since your dad’s kind of been through all this before, has he been able to help you out?

 

THJ: He lives in Dallas so he’s helping me out on how the system works. He’s keeping me up to speed.

 

JS: Tony, I appreciate your time. We’ll keep in touch.

THJ: Okay, thanks a lot.




 

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