OSU’s Hill to decide on NFL after bowl

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeyes receiver K.J. Hill Jr., a junior, says he would look forward to being in a leadership role should he return next season. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

LOS ANGELES — To K.J. Hill, whatever decision he makes about his football future will be a good one.

The fourth-year junior could join senior receivers Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon and enter the NFL draft. Or Hill could return for a final season at Ohio State and build on his success.

“I feel I had a great season this season,” Hill said Saturday during interviews for the Buckeyes’ game against Washington in the Rose Bowl. “If I was to leave, I would be leaving on a good note. Then again, if I did come back next year, a lot can happen, with more touches of the ball, being a leader, potential captain. There’s a lot that comes with it. There’s a lot of potential.”

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Hill is second on the team in receptions (67) and yards (831), including several clutch plays at key moments. In the NFL, he projects as an ideal slot receiver because of his sure hands and quickness.

But the lure of returning is strong.

“With all the seniors gone — Parris, Johnny and Terry — I’d have to take on that role as being the leader, the leader-leader of the room,” he said. “I’ll have Ben (Victor) and Austin (Mack) also as seniors, so I feel like with those three gone, we’ll have to be the next three to step into those shoes.”

Hill said that he has discussed his future with family and others close to him and will make a decision after the Rose Bowl.

Starting left tackle

still up in the air

Offensive coordinator Ryan Day wasn’t definitive about who will start at left tackle for Ohio State against Washington. Starter Thayer Munford was sitting in a cart during practice earlier in the week because of an unspecified injury. Josh Alabi would replace him.

“Josh stepped in played some games for us this year,” Day said. “He has done a good job. We have a lot of faith in Josh. Looks like Thayer probably will be a game-time decision there. But we have confidence in both guys.”

Huskies' Murphy

an athletic corner

Washington’s secondary is considered the strongest unit on the Huskies’ team, and cornerback Byron Murphy is the ringleader. The sophomore made several All-America teams after a season in which he had four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown against Washington State.

“I can't say enough about Byron Murphy,” Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said. “When I first saw him in practice in spring (high school) football practice, it was the best ball skills I’ve ever seen. The kid was snatching the ball out of the sky, at DB, wide receiver.

“Then we went to a few basketball games. You could see his athleticism — dunking the ball, shooting the ball, playing defense, getting steals. Definitely a guy that if we didn't sign, I was going to be crying for a couple of days. But thankfully he’s here, and he has played some big-time football for us. I’m so excited for him to play in a big game like this.”