After seeing his brother, class of 2014 running back C.J. Hilliard, start picking up offers, Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier sophomore linebacker Justin Hilliard did not have to wait long to start his own offer sheet. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound 'backer grabbed his first offer from Indiana earlier this winter.
"They told me to come to their junior day for the Indiana-Michigan game, and they ended up offering me that night," Hilliard said. "It was definitely exciting because I wasn't sure if I was going to get the offer. That was before things started really picking up."
The attention from other schools has certainly picked up since Indiana offered last month, but the Hoosiers being first in the door created an impression that has stuck with Hilliard since.
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"I came away with the impression they are starting new with the coaching staff and the energy of the fans was ridiculous," Hilliard said.
Another positive for Indiana is that they have also offered his brother, a running back, and the younger Hilliard stakes high value on the possibility of keeping the family together in college.
"I definitely want to end up at the same school as C.J., but it depends on where he is going," Hilliard said. "I have to feel comfortable as well, but I think it would be pretty cool playing together."
Visited Tennessee, going to visit Arkansas, also visited Michigan, Cincinnati and going to visit Penn State.
Since the visit to Indiana, Hilliard has also made trips to Michigan, Cincinnati and Tennessee. The visit to Knoxville was particularly notable for Hilliard.
"I got a great vibe," Hilliard said of Tennessee. "They showed us the campus and the training [facilities]. I got a lot of time with Butch Jones and talked about how he is excited to be there [coming] from Cincinnati. They are really looking into me and thinking about offering me. It was a really good experience."
The visit to Michigan also left Hilliard with a positive impression, and the Wolverines suggested they would be watching him closely as well.
"They told me they had a lot of interest in me and would be recruiting me hard," Hilliard said. "They are probably up there for me. They are a good academic school and that's a big thing."
Next up for Hilliard are visits to Arkansas and Penn State. He has not tired of the travel yet, and plans to ramp it up this spring.
"I think I need to get out and see some colleges and compare them before I start going to camps because I can't go to every single school for camps," Hilliard said.