Every year a player, relatively unknown to the rest of college football world, breaks out in a big way.
This year we think that player could be Tennessee’s redshirt freshmen running back Alden Hill.
Hill was recruited to Tennessee by former coach Derek Dooley. He was a three-star recruit coming out of Marlington High School in Alliance, OH. Hill was rated as the 54th best player in the state of Ohio and the 63rd best running back in the nation coming out of high school.
While at Marlington High School the young running back set the school’s all-time rushing record, with 4,745 yards. He capped off his standout high school career with an outstanding senior season, rushing for 1,409 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns. Hill ended up committing to Tennessee over Boston College, Michigan and Vanderbilt among other schools.
Hill came into the spring as the team’s third string running back, behind Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane. While he’ll likely start the season in the same position on the depth chart, he did make quite a name for himself this spring.
The Ohio native saw extended playing time this spring when fellow running back Marlin Lane was suspended from the team indefinitely. He made a great impression during the Vol’s spring game, rushing for 101 yards on 18 carries, prompting Butch Jones to say after the game “Today’s performance summarizes his spring. He has been a great surprise.”.
Jones did say that Hill still has a ways to go and left some yards on the field, but he also said of Hill “He comes with the mentality to get better each and every day. He has become much more physical.”
Alden Hill compares favorably to former Volunteer’s running back Arian Foster. Both backs posses a similar size (Hill is 6’2″/217 while Foster is currently 6’1″/228) and speed. While the 40 times look a little lackluster, both guys play faster on film. Hill is able to burst through the line and get past the secondary into the open field.
Foster and Hill also share some similarities away from the field. Both guys break the mold of typical football players. Foster’s philosophical ways are well documented, while Hill is a graphic design major that is quite the artist. Hill is also a member of the SEC academic honor roll.
The Vols ultimately expect Lane to return, which could cut into Hill’s playing time this fall. Although one thing that Hill has going for him is his running style. Hill is more of a straight ahead downhill runner, that can be the go to guy in short yardage situations. Neal and Lane both like to bounce it outside. Their similar running styles may take more carries away from each other than from Hill.
Hill fully understands what it’s going to take to move up the depth chart, saying after the Orange and White game
I know I just have to be consistent. Come out here looking at pre-snap reads, your alignment, and your steps…..you just have to focus on those little things
The Vols have several players that are candidates to breakout in a big way this season. Alden Hill is just one of the guys that we think will make a name for himself on the field this fall. We’ll touching on some more breakout candidates for the Vols as the season approaches.
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