The numbers keep adding up for K.J. Hill, just like last year. Except this time the sum leaves no doubt: He is coming up big in big games for Ohio State.
Indiana coach Tom Allen noticed it immediately as he watched video in preparation for the Hoosiers’ game Saturday at Ohio State.
“We always look at the guys and say, ‘Who do they go to when the need something? Who comes through for them in the clutch?’” Allen said. “And that’s the guy who sticks out to me.”
Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
A fourth-year junior from North Little Rock, Arkansas, Hill has the reputation of, really, not having a huge reputation compared with some of his fellow receivers. That’s even though he led the team in catches last season with 56, and through the first five games this season he leads again with 27, just ahead of Parris Campbell (26).
“He’s a tough, tough guy, and tough, tough guys survive in tough situations,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said of Hill, who has 101 catches for 1,129 yards and six touchdowns. “So that’s his No. 1 asset: He’s a tough guy.”
Hill has always been willing to work the underbelly of the defense with crossing and drag routes. But he branched out to the edges, especially against TCU three weeks ago with a foot-stomp catch just inbounds on third-and-long and later with a back-shoulder touchdown catch.
Then came last week’s 27-26 win at Penn State. Hill’s six catches were second to Campbell’s seven, but Hill delivered key grabs down the stretch, punctuated by a 24-yard screen catch — paved by blocks from Austin Mack and Terry McLaurin — for the winning TD that Hill finished off with a drum major-like prance into the end zone.
“Just watching the film he’s tough, he’s gritty, he’s athletic. He gets tough yards," Allen said. "He’s got the ball skills to make the plays you want in that area, and then he can do something with it when he’s got it in his hands. He’s a guy you want on your team, and a guy you go to at those critical times. So he’s a really, really good football player.”