Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill, center, sings the alma mater with Reggie Todd, left, and Darryl Williams on Saturday after the Maroon team beat the White team 28-10 in the annual Maroon & White spring football game at Davis Wade Stadium. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch Buy this photo.
April 23, 2018 10:07:23 AM
STARKVILLE -- Comfort was an acquired taste through Kylin Hill's freshman season. The Columbus native and Mississippi State running back had enough on the surface, 30 minutes removed from home and playing in an offense resembling the high school system that made him one of the nation's top prospects at his position. All that was missing was the details.
He thinks he has those in order now. The spring game might be the first sign.
In Satuday's Maroon & White game, Hill led all running backs with nine carries, taking them for 50 yards and a game-high three touchdowns. He exits the spring just as he entered it -- as the favorite for the No. 2 running back spot, forming a tandem with West Point native Aeris Williams.
"That's an awesome 1-2 punch there," MSU coach Joe Moorhead said. "Kylin's got a unique skillset, he's very fast, size and elusiveness. He had a good spring and I was happy to see him cap it off that way."
Hill capped it with a consistent performance on Saturday, averaging 5.6 yards per carry with no outlier to bring it up, never taking a carry more than 13 yards. If Hill does duplicate it in the fall, there will be two reasons for it.
The first is his body. Hill looks like a new man from last fall to this spring, but his weight has remained somewhat static, from 212 pounds in the fall to 215 in the spring. He said the difference is cutting fat, something he was turned onto by new strength and conditioning coach Anthony Piroli.
"Being an NFL strength coach, he said this would help me out a lot and make me faster," Hill said. "I'm way quicker than last year."
Hill said he plans to diet over the summer to cut a little more fat; he may be stronger from his freshman season to his sophomore season, and he certainly looks it, but Hill sees the lost fat as a bigger factor than the added strength.
Now, Hill can take that improved body and put it in a system he loves.
"In this offense, everybody gets to utilize their talents more than past offenses we've had. We're more explosive," Hill said. "They know how to put players in certain spots, they know how to use their players, they know what their players are good at and what they're bad at and how to put them in the right spot."
Hill knows the sky is the limit if he plays the system the way it is taught: he said MSU running backs coach and run game coordinator Charles Huff regularly mentions his Penn State pupil Saquon Barkley, who in this system under Moorhead and Huff ran for 2,767 yards and into Heisman Trophy consideration. Barkley could be a top 5 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and now Hill sees how the system can do that for its players.
"I'd say putting me in open space and giving me a chance to use my speed, show people what I can do," Hill said.
MSU showed the desire to do it early, throwing to Hill on a designed swing pass screen in the first half. Hill ended the scrimmage with three catches for 29 yards. It is ideas like those that contributed to the team buying into the system, as Hill saw it, a mere five practices into the spring.
It bears noting that Moorhead said after the scrimmage MSU was working on version 1.0 of the offense and to expect more nuances to come when the team returns for preseason practice in the fall. Based on Hill's experience in the spring, that thought doesn't scare him; he'll be ready to produce.
"It's an offense that anyone can come in and get it," Hill said.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
1. Bulldogs rewarding Gautreau's faith COLLEGE SPORTS
3. No. 3 Ohio State ends No. 6 MSU's season COLLEGE SPORTS