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KJ Hill's Dynamic Senior Season Influenced by a Hall of Famer


When a Hall of Famer lends advice, you listen.

Such was the case for KJ Hill at the end of his junior year at Ohio St.

The wideout was at a crossroads; either declare for the draft or return back to school.

But then, a conversation he had with Hall of Fame wide receiver and former Buckeye Cris Carter changed everything.

"He talked to me and the main thing I took from our talk was he told me to maximize (my) career," Hill said. "(He said,) 'The league is always going to be there. Maximize your career, maximize your name at Ohio St.' I did that by breaking records, putting my name in cement and getting better as a player.  I took a whole year and feel like I developed, and I'm ready for the NFL."

"I felt at the time, especially with him being very close to graduation, I think that sometimes in your pursuit of your NFL career, you lose sight of what you went to college for," Carter mentioned. "I also believe there were skills he could show in his senior year that would give him potential that he could have a longer career. (Along with) the potential of being one of the leaders on the team who could have a special season, all those things were reasons why I thought he should come back to school."

Hill certainly had a special season.

He became Ohio St.'s all-time receptions leader and led the Buckeyes in receptions for the season before being selected by the Bolts in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

"He did everything he could do in college; four-year starter, caught a ton of balls and won a ton of games at Ohio St.," general manager Tom Telesco said. "We weren't necessarily looking to go receiver in the seventh round, but we just thought he was too good a player to let go there."

Carter said he was impressed with what Hill did his final season in college, despite knowing the added demands that returning can bring. Along with breaking the all-time receptions record, he finished 2019 with 57 receptions for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"Even though he made the decision to go back to school, it's always a lot of pressure to put up good numbers; guys want to be drafted high and they want senior awards," Carter mentioned. "When you're typically on a team that was in the top five for the most part of the season, you have to sacrifice. For me, he never got selfish trying to think of his pro career and chase stats compared to being a leader, being consistent, continuing to develop as a football player, and he had a heck of a season."

But overall, it's that unselfish mentality coupled with talent that Carter believes will prove beneficial for Hill at the next level.

"I think he's been an all-around good player. He has great hands. He understands football, understands route running (and) leverage. That's the reason why he's been able to be successful. If you look at all the players' records he broke in pursuit of becoming the all-time receiver at Ohio St., a lot of those guys went on to have pretty good pro careers. If he's able to continue growing, then he should be able to make a contribution to an NFL team."

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