Justin Hilliard's 2019 season looked like it might be over before it started when the linebacker suffered a torn Achilles tendon during spring practice.

Now Hilliard knows he'll be getting a 2020 season with Ohio State. Hilliard revealed Wednesday night that the NCAA has granted him a sixth year of eligibility.

Hilliard had applied to the NCAA, through OSU's compliance office, for an additional year because of the numerous injuries he has endured in his career. He has twice suffered a torn left biceps and tore his right one once. He also suffered a torn meniscus in addition to the Achilles injury.

Hilliard detailed all of that in his request for a sixth year.

“It totaled up to 24 months of rehab,” he said. “When it was all said and done, they chose to give me another year.”

Hilliard has become an increasingly big part of the defense as a fourth linebacker in certain packages. Against Penn State, he had a critical second-half interception.

“I feel I still have more to give,” he said. “Playing in the NFL is still a goal of mine, and if I wanted to do that, I'd have to do a sixth year.”

Hilliard is among the most respected Buckeyes players. He was Ohio State's Big Ten sportsmanship award honoree awarded Tuesday.

“My mom called me and told me I won an award,” Hilliard said. “I had no idea. Just to get recognized for that means a lot.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch