Stephen Hill is the toast of New York after becoming the first NFL rookie to catch two touchdowns in his debut since 2005.
The former Georgia Tech and Miller Grove High School star finished with five catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns for the New York Jets against Buffalo on Sunday.
Hill also apparently caught a bug, with Deadspin poking a little fun with this headline — “Superlative Jets Rookie Stephen Hill Dominated Yesterday’s Game While Periodically Puking On The Sidelines”
Former Miller Grove coach Jasper Jewell watched it on TV.
“I’m grinning from ear to ear. I couldn’t be more proud.
“He always had the physical skills, but I’ve never coached any athlete that worked harder to be success. He told me when he got drafted that ‘I know I’m going to make it in the NFL.’ I think he’s going to have a good career in New York.’
As far as football recruiting, Hill was vastly underrated coming out of high school, despite being 6-foot-4 and one of the state’s top overall athletes.
In basketball, Hill was a key member of Miller Grove’s state championship team and had scholarship offers in that sport. In track, Hill broke the state record in the long jump. In football, Hill was a one-man wrecking crew with a 95-yard kickoff return against eventual state champion Tucker.
Hill was largely ignored until late in the recruiting process. He committed early to Central Florida, then switched to Georgia Tech. He was approached with a last-minute offer from UGA the week before signing day, but decided to stick with the Yellow Jackets.
“A lot of teams down here in the South didn’t bite on him, and I was really shocked he didn’t have more offers,” Jewell said. “I guess the rankings don’t matter now. It’s all water under the bridge.”
Hill bumped up in the final national rankings in 2009 for wide receivers – No. 23 by Scout, No. 92 by ESPN and No. 99 by Rivals.
Fast forward to 2012 and Jets coach Rex Ryan was bragging on Hill to New York reporters on Monday:
“This guy is ahead of where most rookie receivers are,” Ryan said.
Ryan recalled a draft-day moment, when someone in the war room asked WRs coach Sanjay Lal, “If we draft this player, will he be ready for Buffalo?” Lal promised Hill would be ready.
After Buffalo, Lal remembered that moment and told GM Mike Tannenbaum: “I told you he’d be ready for Buffalo.”
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– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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