INDIANAPOLIS – San Diego State sent four prospects to the NFL Combine this season, a sign of a program on the rise.
The most well-known, Ronnie Hillman, finished with 1,981 yards of offense and 20 touchdowns in his final collegiate season. His numbers reminded many of Marshall Faulk, another SDSU running back who became an NFL Hall of Famer.
To some NFL teams, one of the most elusive players in college football was a bit small. Hearing the feedback, Hillman moved to Indianapolis to train with other clients of agent Eugene Parker ahead of the Combine.
Hillman gained 11 pounds of muscle and now is 200 pounds and “as fast as ever.”
“A lot of people are saying I’m too small to play in the league, but I’m just as big as these guys and I can play with the best of them,” Hillman said.
The running back’s game-by-game rushing totals resemble something constructed playing Madden, not on an actual gridiron. He topped 100 yards in nine of 11 games, including seven of more than 140 yards.
Working out six days a week and employing a nutritionist, he’s transformed his body.
“He bulked up,” said San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley, also at the Combine. “I was messing with him and asking him if he’s finally eating right. He is. You can tell he’s definitely going all-in. He’s working hard and hopefully he puts out a good product.”
Said Hillman: “(Ryan) told me, ‘No more Skittles for dinner?’ I’m like, ‘I haven’t even had candy in I don’t know how long, honestly.’”
The high-calorie diet helped him add lean mass just 15 minutes from Lucas Oil Stadium. Hillman believes he can run between the tackles in the NFL, which he estimates he did half his carries in college.
Hillman also caught about two passes a game, taking one 71 yards for a touchdown during a 305-yard, three-score outburst against Wyoming.“Marshall Faulk came out of San Diego State. It’s not about the school, but what you do with your talent and showing you can play on a big stage,” Hillman said. “If I get close to the career he had, I’ll be good.”