Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
Headed for Hill: Hogs Hill's pick
North Little Rock receiver K.J. Hill takes a call on speakerphone from the Arkansas Razorbacks coaching staff while being swarmed by media after announcing Friday his oral commitment to Arkansas during a news conference at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in North Little Rock.
K.J. Hill wants to be a part of the changes going on at Arkansas.
The highly regarded receiver from North Little Rock High School orally committed to the Razorbacks on Friday morning during a news conference at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.
He said his faith in Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema was a key factor in his decision.
"Coach Bielema is going to change the program around," Hill said. "I think I can help build that."
Hill narrowed his scholarship offers from approximately 20 schools to Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Each school's cap was placed on a table in front of Hill, and he revealed his choice by picking up the Razorback cap and placing on his head.
Hill was the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's All-Arkansas Preps Offensive Player of the Year last season after catching 63 passes for 1,143 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior.
"My role would be that of a play-maker," Hill said, "the go-to guy, the person that they need in big-time situations."
Hill, 6-1, 192 pounds, 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash, is a considered a four-star prospect by most recruiting services.
"I was blown away by his junior film and rank him among the country's finest wide receiver prospects," said national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network, who rates him as a four-star-plus recruit. "He reminds me of DeSean Jackson when he played at Long Beach Poly. He catches everything within his frame and can make the sensational catch look routine.
"He is a fun player to watch."
ESPN rates Hill as the No. 25 wide receiver and the No. 208 overall prospect in the nation. Hill, his mother Diedra and stepfather Montez Peterson visited Arkansas on Aug. 16 and watched the Razorback scrimmage. Hill said that was the tipping point.
"I came home and talked to my parents about it," Hill said. "I talked to the coaches about it. They were asking me what am I waiting for, and I just made my decision."
North Little Rock Coach Brad Bolding said five college coaches told him Hill was the best receiver they have seen on video.
"I had five, and these are top-20 teams. That told me that he was the best receiver on film in the country," Bolding said. "I think that says a lot about him. They [Arkansas] are going to get him the ball in a lot of different ways, kind of like how we are now."
Dumas tight end Will Gragg, a friend of Hill's who is also one of the top tight end prospects in the nation, showed his support of Hill by attending the announcement. Hill said Friday that he believes it's just a matter of time until Gragg joins him as a Razorbacks commitment.
"He's probably going to be very soon," Hill said.
Hill also has communicated with Nashville receiver La'Michael Pettway, who is orally committed to Ole Miss, and said he believes he might eventually flip his commitment to the Razorbacks.
Hill said he is firm in his commitment to the Razorbacks, but he still plans to take official visits to Ohio State (Sept. 6), Notre Dame (Oct. 4), Florida (Oct. 11) and Alabama (Nov. 29). He'll visit Fayetteville on Nov. 15 for the LSU game.
"I want to take all my officials just to make sure it's right, just to see other campuses that I've never gotten to see like Ohio State, Florida and Notre Dame," Hill said. "I want to go up there and just see how everything is."
Hill spoke with Bielema and Arkansas' offensive coaches after announcing his commitment Friday.
"They were really so happy," Hill said. "They're just fired up. [Bielema] said they had high-fives going around the table, and that just made me feel even more special."
Hill said his parents were on board with his decision.
"It was kind of a relief to them because they didn't want to go seven to 14 hours or something like that," Hill said. "They played a big role in it.
"My mom asked me, 'if you didn't play football, which school would you want to go to?' That's when I said Arkansas, and she said, 'I feel better about your decision.' "
Hill is Arkansas' 12th oral commitment for the 2015 class. Oral commitments are nonbinding.
Sports on 08/30/2014