Tigers’ Hill Ready for All Comers

by - Correspondent -
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HOT SPRINGS, Va. — N.C. State running back Tramain Hall quietly leaned down in Tye Hill’s ear and whispered “touchdown Tramain Hall” as he exited the players interview room Sunday afternoon.
With a big grin, Clemson’s first team All-ACC candidate let Hall know where he stood with a loud shout back.

“Not on my watch,” Hill said. “No sir.”

On October 13, fans will find out who will win the war of words, but for now Hill seemed confident it will be him.

“My duty is to still be the best cornerback I can be,” he said. “My duty is not to get (beat) and intercept (any pass) when I can.”

Hill’s confidence appeared evident all throughout the 90-minute interview session with members of the Atlantic Coast Conference media at The Homestead, as he talked about his decision to give up track in order to concentrate more on football, new defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, the new ACC and new South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier.

“This is the biggest year of my career,” said Hill.

The St. George native decided before the start of spring practice that he was going to give up track despite being the ACC’s in-door 60-meter and outdoor 100-meters champion in 2004.

“I wanted to concentrate straight on football,” he said. “ I wanted to give one whole year where all my attention went straight towards football. I wanted to do all the things like mat drills, spring ball and all of those things.

“This is my last year, and I will have a chance to go into the NFL so I want to make sure I’ve done everything I could.”

Last year Hill made big strides in becoming a Sunday star. He finished third in the country and led the ACC with 21 passes defended, tying a Clemson single-season record. He had twice has many passes broken up than any other Tiger.

This year, he says he still plans on leading the ACC in that category, but he also plans to add a few interceptions to his repertoire.

“I haven’t caught an interception yet. I plan on getting me a few this year,” he said. “I would have had a few last year, but I played with a dislocated finger on my right hand for much of the year and that caused me to drop a few I should have caught.”

One thing Hill says he is trying to catch these days is the new scheme under new defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. After playing much of the last two seasons in man coverage, Hill said he will have to adjust to Koenning’s plan, which will put Tiger corners in zone 80 percent of the time.

“I know what he expects from me so I’m pretty comfortable with him,” said Hill. “I’m more of a cover corner so it is going to be an adjustment for me. I have to be a little more patient and do what I’m supposed to do.

“I think I’ll be OK, but it will take some getting used to.”

One game Hill has already marked on his calendar is the South Carolina game. He said he is excited about going up against Spurrier and his wide open “Cock and Fire Offense.”

“When that game comes around, all the focus will be on USC and what (Spurrier) is going to have for us,” Hill said. “I want to see what he is going to have for me. That is going to keep me pumped and it will have me ready to play.

“He likes to throw the ball and I like it when (teams) throw the ball. It keeps me in the game. I’m looking forward to playing against them.”

As for all the attention the media is giving USC since Spurrier’s arrival in Columbia, it hasn’t bothered Clemson. According to their cornerback, it just adds a little more flavor to what is already an intense rivalry.

“No, it doesn’t effect us. (Spurrier) doesn’t play,” he said. “We don’t even think about that. We already know we are going to hear about it, especially in South Carolina, but Spurrier is just going to boost the rivalry.

“He just adds to it. There will be more television ratings and more people in the stands because of it and that is good for the rivalry.”

Will Vandervort is the Sports Editor for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger.

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