Stephen Hill working harder for Tech

Stephen Hill was usually the first player off Georgia Tech’s practice field last year.

This year, he plans on being the last off. He said last year’s 15-catch, 291-yard performance “could have been more of a disappointment,” but his tone made it seem like he wasn’t sure how. This year, a stronger Hill has rededicated himself to doing the extra things that he thinks will lead to better results. Coach Paul Johnson said Hill put too much pressure on himself to try and be the next Demaryius Thomas.

“The expectations were higher than what was accomplished, but you live and learn and Stephen’s working hard and hopefully he can come back, have a good spring and a good year next year,” Johnson said.

The hard work started in the offseason. Hill’s upper arms and forearms are noticeably bigger. He said he wanted to get stronger in both areas so that he could better secure the ball after catches and in jump-ball situations, as well as successfully fight off cornerbacks who try to jam him at the line of scrimmage. He has put on at least 15 pounds of muscle and weighs 215 pounds.

“It’s giving me more of an advantage, being bigger instead of just being tall and lanky,” he said.

He’s also working on the mental aspect of football. He and quarterback Tevin Washington watch film before and after practice, something Hill said he didn’t do enough of last year.

“Me and Tevin have this mindset that we are going to work and be on the same page,” he said.

Tech’s offense needs a wide receiver that can be counted on. There were too many examples of dropped passes or poor blocks that stopped drives.

“It was a learning thing, a stepping stone to get better for this season,” Hill said.

Cornerback

Across from Hill, cornerback Rod Sweeting is also impressing.

Sweeting has played a lot of special teams and in some pass packages his first two seasons. He steadily gained playing time last season and began making plays the more he was on the field. He finished with one interception and seven pass break-ups.

He, sophomore Louis Young and senior Michael Peterson are pushing each other for the two starting cornerback spots in a secondary that must replace all four starters. Sweeting, who added some strength in the offseason and is up to 188 pounds, wants to win one of those jobs. He is working to improve his press-man coverage. He said he would sometimes lunge at receivers at the line last year. This year, he wants to have the patience to watch what is happening and make better plays on passes. Secondary coach Charles Kelly said Sweeting “looks good and smooth.”

“I’ve played a lot of ball,” Sweeting said. “This could be a big year for me.”

Johnson and Kelly are excited about the potential of the back four.

“I have high expectations for them, the whole secondary is athletic,” Johnson said.

Hill said he and Sweeting have had some good one-on-one battles in practice.

“They push us the same way we push them,” he said. “We both want to be good on both sides of the ball.”

Etc.

Roddy Jones was honored with the Peach of an Athlete Award by the Boy Scouts of America earlier this week. Jones, a senior and A-back, received the award because he is a role model for “athletics, academics, community service and scouting.” … Saturday’s practice is the first that will be open to the public. It will start at 9 a.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium. … Johnson said the team looked OK in its first day of pads. “I think the attitude is good,” he said. Johnson joked that the excitement level made everyone “forget where they are going and what they are doing,” but they are excited about Saturday’s practice, when the players should calm down some. … Offensive lineman Morgan Bailey (sprained ankle) returned for his first practice.

– Doug Roberson, AJC


58 comments Add your comment

Dog Kicker

April 1st, 2011
7:11 pm

Dog Kicker

April 1st, 2011
7:12 pm

I hope the extra work pays off for S. Hill, we have got to have somebody to catch the ball.

Jack Nicholson

April 1st, 2011
7:22 pm

Hill should know there are many other WR’s behind him on the depth chart. Several dropped passes early in the season will earn him a spot on the bench for the remainder of the season. CPJ will not be burned by this kid for an entire season again.

Gen. Forrest

April 1st, 2011
7:53 pm

I hope your right Jack. It was painful to watch this kid drop almost every pass thrown to him last season. He has potential, but he has to focus on making receptions and quit worrying about what the D-back is going to do. He is going to try and bury you every play so why worry about it. You know you’re gonna take a hit, so ignore it and focus on making the catch and holding on! It seemed like he was trying to run before the reception a lot last season imho.

Hayseed Dixie

April 1st, 2011
7:58 pm

Jack’s right, and that could be exactly what it takes, Stephen Hill could be a monster if he got his head straight.

Could you imagine if he had caught just a handful of the ones he’d dropped last season? Game changers.

Meanwhile, Roddy Jones continues to make me wish he could stay at Tech forever. What a dude.

Gtfan11

April 1st, 2011
8:15 pm

I have an idea Stephen, CATCH THE BALL. It’s amazing how good a receiver can be when he performs this task.

BartBuzz

April 1st, 2011
8:32 pm

If CPJ had any confidence in the other receivers last year, he would have used them. Let’s hope there is competition at WR this year. But Tech’s game depends entirely on QB. That’s what worries me.

Worm

April 1st, 2011
9:05 pm

Tech working on a passing game is about like Obama trying to balance the budget.

BYRDDAWG

April 1st, 2011
9:14 pm

Not hatin but they need a little more balance to win any big bowl games…..

GT '93

April 1st, 2011
9:40 pm

Now this is a good story, “REPORTER” (not journalist), Doug. And it’s got some “opinion” to it; albeit cleverly disguised. :) Great Job!!!

Hill is quality. Watch his high school videos. UGA wanted him. Nough’ said.

Size, speed, strength and athleticism.

He could be the difference maker in ‘11 IF… And it’s a big “IF”

1. We can teach our undersized O-Line to pass block.

and

MOST IMPORTANTLY

2. We can find a QB to deliver the ball, on a strike…

Laugh if you will… But we haven’t had #2 accomplished since Godsey.

That’s right. Godsey could throw strikes!

Thanks for the “report”.

Personnel

April 1st, 2011
9:54 pm

GT 93,

I don’t disagree with you too much, but seriously, Stephen Hill dropped more good passes thrown to him than there were bad passes thrown. He literally couldn’t have caught the thing last year if he had put magnets on it. I mean it was just miserable to see. Remember when Travis Bell was really hit or miss with field goals and everyone cringed, that’s the way I feel when I see a pass headed to Stephen. I hope he turns it around. What a waste of athleticism if not…maybe he should try being a D-back.

bikerchick

April 1st, 2011
9:56 pm

Here comes the stephen hill crap again……please don’t curse him like last year. He has to potential to be good, so lets wait until he is good to build him up. baybay thomas never got this much attention. I just wish he could catch…..Seriously, why is he even a receiver?? Every game he would drop a huge pass…facemask agaist clemson is what i remember the most. I hope can become the playermaker that tech needs this year

Bill Halasz

April 1st, 2011
10:01 pm

Doug Roberson- please write ………..on himself to try to be, not……….on himself to try and be……….

gt4ever

April 1st, 2011
10:08 pm

The small OL has more to do with the passing game…. Hill would be OK if we ran an offense that was worth a CRAP, a QB who could throw the ball, and an OL that was big and good enough to block! But hey, I may be asking for a little too much….

K

April 1st, 2011
10:27 pm

Tevin and I. Not me and Tevin!

moe

April 1st, 2011
10:37 pm

he needs it cuz he was dreadful last year

Irish John

April 1st, 2011
10:46 pm

Hill is not the only one who is disappointed in his performance. It’s too bad he wasn’t disappointed enough to improve last year.

GTPhenom

April 1st, 2011
10:48 pm

For those of you bashing the offense, lord have mercy please lay off of this crap will you. It has already won one more championship than Gaileys “typical pro style” did in seven years. Look,I love the idea of Hill becoming a bigger, more physical reciever. If I remember, he was very lanky last year, only about 195 or something like that, so to see him buffing up is very good news. My only thing for his is just focus man! He can be one helluva a reciever if he focuses, its not like we haven’t seen the potential there. This could be a huge year for him if he will just focus and not worry about everything else. And so far I like what he is doing to make this happen.
The secondary is also looking promising to me. This was a year I was really looking forward to in seeing just how talented and loaded our secondary might be. Sweeting has looked great and has huge potential, and then there is that kid by the name of Isaiah Johnson who I feel has potential to easily surpass anything Morgan Burnett did for the defense. Impact potential in that kid. Finally, Mr. Roddy Jones, you have been a class act for GT for four years now. He will always be remembered for that Weekend in November in 2008 where he put up over 200 against our instate rivals. Too bad we can’t keep him hear longer, but I hope he gets some kind of chance in the big league somewhere as a RB.

GTPhenom

April 1st, 2011
10:50 pm

gt4ever, get off it already will you, the argument is getting old, it has proven to be successful. We’ll see what happens this upcoming season. Just hope we don’t get bandwagoners like yourself back on if we do well again.

Phil mcgroin

April 1st, 2011
11:17 pm

We have a favorable schedule this year and may take some lumps at the QB position but i think we can win 8 regular season games with our schedule. The ACC is not the strongest conference and FSU is in the atlantic so who knows what will happen. If we beat VT at home this year i think we have a great shot to win our side! Clemson,UNC and VT all break in new qb’s also so it will be interesting! Our system works great when we don’t fumble 4 times a game and look like clowns on special teams! Cut down on mistakes and we have a shot at a good season!

William Casey

April 1st, 2011
11:42 pm

Critics of Stephen Hill should remember that he was a true freshman last year, not a PRO. I suspect that some of the critics here couldn’t have found their dorm room their frosh year. He’s older, wiser and working on it. Let’s see what happens!

Wardo

April 2nd, 2011
12:19 am

Casey, Hill was NOT a freshman last year. Check it out.

macrotech

April 2nd, 2011
12:29 am

I’m ALL for what he’s done and said…would have liked to hear him reference his blocking skills. THEY could benefit from his bulking up! I’m pulling for him, in hopes that it would make us better than we were last year! GO TECH!!!

Stinger 2

April 2nd, 2011
4:42 am

Doug: Good report and good news about Hill. Hope this translates into improvement in the games. Would be a big help to the offense.
“The Flats are rising in 2011″. Go Jackets

Ozzy

April 2nd, 2011
7:18 am

Thanks for the report Doug. I hope Hill can rebound. I got to where I hated to see the ball going his way last year.

To me, Roddy Jones is the kind of kid every Tech fan should be very proud of. Gets it done in the class room and gives his all on the field. I’ll never forget him for the win in Athens a couple of years ago. Is he playing baseball this year too?

Hey Doug, how about some news on Orwin Smith? I think he showed flashes of real potential last year. He just needs to get stronger and secure the ball better. Does he look like a starter for this fall?

RambleOn84

April 2nd, 2011
7:42 am

Take it easy on the kid, all you superstars…Hill had a rough year.

Yeah, I cringed when we we threw the ball to him after a few games too. But he was still a TRUE SOPHOMORE with HUGE expectations placed upon him…the important thing is he showed some good improvement towards the end of the year and he is working his tail off now.

Give him a chance to show us what he’s made of. We all know he’s capable of being a difference-maker.

Give ‘em hell, Stephen, and show all these “experts” who you are.

GO JACKETS!

Ramblin Man

April 2nd, 2011
8:33 am

Hopefully with the pressure of being Bey Bey gone he will do better. The first thing I thought last year when Hill was being compared to Thomas and Nesbitt’s heisman talk began was oh crapola. You could tell he wanted to run before the catch was made and all he could think was big catch. If he can block out better with that extra muscle and catch passes for ten-fifteen yards I will be happy because the big ones will start coming then.

Ramblin Man

April 2nd, 2011
8:44 am

I also hope Moore or Greene (if not redsirted) can step up oppisite of Hill. I really think Thomas had such a good Junior year because though Stephen did not have many thrown his way his freshman year he did make a few good catches so opposing D coordinators thought there was a threat on either side and had to adjust for that. Last year after game 5 or so you could easily see the DBs creeping up with no real threat in the passing game. I also look for O. Smith to have a good year with receptions, he impressed me with holding on to the ball after a hard hit as well as getting extra yards after the catch. Clemson fans like to brag about the hit in this video I look at the first down reception, reciver holding on to the ball and the ten yard run that follows becuase they had to respect a pass coming to that side.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nhe8a42AuY

GT

April 2nd, 2011
8:51 am

It is like point guards under Cremins. After a while you can’t get any better than the guy before you, and the press and fans would wear the poor average guy out. Demaryius Thomas got a lot of real open catches because the running game was eating the defenses up, I am not sure Hill got that advantage last year. Thomas has great stats with the least amount of opportunity to catch the ball of anybody in the ACC. Tech’s offense got into some pretty desperate positions last year and poor Hill was the only weapon they could come up with to bail them out. Hopefully this year we won’t have those long third down situations. No matter when we play Georgia, Hill will make or break us, unless someone else steps up this year. We need one of those backs like Sims to come out of the backfield. Still the less we have to throw the more we eat the clock and wear down the defense. Hope we don’t use Hill very much this year or it will be another long year.

BYRDDAWG

April 2nd, 2011
9:08 am

This is just my obsevation & I’m a DAWG so you can yell at me if you want but it sure seemed to me that Hill fights with the ball ALOT! He really doesn’t seem comfortable out there….with that said do you think the @ QB’s inaccuracy might have affected HIS performance?? He sure is a nice big target like our boy Kris Durham was…just askin

Can we Catch?

April 2nd, 2011
9:46 am

We’ve got the size at Wide Receiver this year. Can we catch?…

Stephen Hill 6′5” 200 lbs.
Jeff Greene 6′6” 200 lbs
Darren Waller 6′5” 205 lbs.
Jeremy Moore 6′3” 185 lbs

GT45

April 2nd, 2011
9:47 am

I hope Stephen can turn the corner this year. Good luck!

Fernando Appleyard

April 2nd, 2011
10:10 am

Western Carolina 67 GT 17.

Hill’s gonna need those extra pounds of muscle, ’cause he’s mostly going to be a blocker.

Days & Hill Connect

April 2nd, 2011
10:13 am

Everything I’ve read says Days will start. Can’t wait to see him connect with Hill on some of these long distance passes like in the reel below…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q2k95TtTdk&feature=related

Tampa Wreck

April 2nd, 2011
10:15 am

Let’s ease up a little on the young man (Stephen Hill). I think he is likely more disappointed than anyone in his performance last year, and it looks like he is making a good effort to get better. That’s all we can ask.

Fernando Appleyard

April 2nd, 2011
10:16 am

Hey Doug, if you want to get some hits on this blog put UGA in your headline. You’d have 10 pages by now.

gt4ever

April 2nd, 2011
10:18 am

GTPhenom,

Successful at WHAT? Getting 400 yards rushing and still losing…. Granted, we won the ACC. One could argue that it was a weak ACC. He did it with someone else’s recruits, or the gimmick was new and it takes awhile to adjust…. My opinion is that we won because of the talent that Gailey had recruited and that the ACC was just WEAK! Whatever your opinion may be, the bottom line is that we have beaten NOBODY that is any good… We have lost to a lousy UGA team 2 years in a row. Oh, and one of those years we were ACC champs…. I stand by my opinion. The only thing that is CRAP is this OFFENSE. The longer we run it, the weaker we get. Let me spell it out to you, we continue to SUCK in recruiting. This football team continues to get weaker, until somebody decides that this isn’t working, We will continue to LOSE to the better teams! Last, I am NO fair weather fan. My family is 100 percent GT, we have all graduated, and have watched longer than most people on this blog. I just choose not to be ignorant of all the facts! I choose not to be associated with MORONS who profess to have football knowledge. The very ones who say that this offense has been successful.

Good Day

GDBurdell

April 2nd, 2011
10:59 am

for the two fake tek “fans” posting under several names: 3-4 win season with your lousy fat azz coach blaming the players who he suckered into playing at tek…ACC will be strong this year and tekys will be very very embarrassed. ZERO chance of a title…start dreaming up the excuses and picking scapegoats now suckers!!!

RambleOn84

April 2nd, 2011
11:03 am

“gt4ever,”
You’re an idiot. The OFFENSE has been great from day one. The TEAM was not good overall last year, due to the defense and special teams being bad, as well as too many mental mistakes and turnovers on offense.

If you want to argue that Johnson is doing a poor job because we haven’t succeeded on defense and special teams, fine. You might have a point, though I’ll still disagree. Johnson needs more time, and he has proven that he can be a winner. The talent level is improving. Yeah, we lost a couple of stars from Gailey’s team, but the other guys Gailey left were not so great. How about Gailey’s linemen, huh? Good running backs are a dime a dozen, but the O-line is what has been struggling big time. Despite that, the offense has been great.

Again, if you don’t like Johnson overall, fine. Maybe he’s not a great OVERALL coach, as our defense and special teams have CLEARLY struggled big time. But you don’t have a leg to stand on if you’re bashing his offense. The offense has won and kept us in games.

Arguing that Johnson doesn’t know offense outs you as either:
a. an idiot OR
b. a Johnson or Tech hater

RambleOn84

April 2nd, 2011
11:03 am

And “GDBurdell,”
Get a life. That is all.

gt4ever

April 2nd, 2011
11:42 am

Funny, RambleOn84….. Time will tell…. Hope your right, but I’m NO idiot… My knowledge of football is beyond your comprehension… Our talent level is getting better. What on earth are you drinking… Jeeeez, maybe your just a true optimist…. NOT, more like a guy who has never played the game.

Ozzy

April 2nd, 2011
11:49 am

GD, you should know all about posting under multiple different names. You spend more time on GT blogs than on your poodle blogs. I strongly suspect you are also dawgfan, D A Double U G, gt4ever, etc….etc….etc.

Go outside now Logan. You need some to get some sun.

just Asking

April 2nd, 2011
11:51 am

What ever happen to Charles Perkins? The running back out of Collinshill HS.

RambleOn84

April 2nd, 2011
1:45 pm

Your knowledge of football is “beyond my comprehension?” All right, man…whatever you say…join GDBurdell and GET A LIFE.

Not that it matters, but I played for 8 years, 4 of which under a guy currently in the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame. I know a little.

Wreckmaniac

April 2nd, 2011
8:43 pm

When he grabs two in the endzone against UGA, I be a fan.

Wreckmaniac

April 2nd, 2011
8:50 pm

I can’t believe that anyone would bring up Gailey’s name. Just when I was beginning to recover from the nightmares. Gailey may have brought in some good offensive players but he also stuck with R Ball for which he will never be forgiven. Never. He also did not hand over to Johnson a decent defense so just how good was he at recruiting ? I know he is in Buffalo and I can only ask if there is a location further from Atl than Buffalo please send him there. Buffalo is too close. I could coach better than Gailey and I’ve never played.

gt4ever

April 2nd, 2011
9:38 pm

I brought up Gaily for this simple reason. Paul Johnson won games because of his recruits… I am certainly NO Gaily fan. I have been very concerned about the direction GT football is heading. The recruiting or lack of recruiting is totally unaceptable. But hey, NOBODY wants to play in this system on offense, at least nobody talented…. We have our fill of GS, Navy, and Airforce recruits, and it looks pretty dismal going forward… I have been watching GT football for 25 years, and with the exception of Bill Lewis it really hasn’t been this bad… Some of the BLIND loyalist on here are still drinking the PJ juice…. PJ is only making this team weaker every year we run his system…. But that’s just my opinion… Time will tell..

bbb

April 2nd, 2011
11:42 pm

I do not understand what CPJ sees in Tevin Washington. Can someone explain why Tevin is the starter? This is what I do not understand about CPJ. It’s like he wants GT to be a Div 1 AA school and going to place people at postions to ensure that happens

RambleOn84

April 3rd, 2011
7:39 am

Yeah, it is just YOUR opinion, dumb@ss…cuz the NUMBERS tell a different story…again, the OFFENSE has been good.

And aside from ONE GOOD YEAR of recruiting from Chan Gailey (really a fluke when you look at his overall body of work), he was an AWFUL recruiter. Consistently worse than what Johnson has brought in so far.

Fishwrap

April 3rd, 2011
11:28 am

Roddy Jones wins an award for his athletic, academic and community service accomplishments, and it’s given TWO sentences in the “Etc.” section?! I guess the AJC doesn’t regard stories of athletes doing things the right way as being that “newsworthy”. (smh!)