MORE HELMHOLDT: Midwest Weekend Wrap
It is hard for deserving Division I football prospects to fly under the radar until their senior seasons in the Internet era, but Southfield (Mich.) safety Cedric Hill appears to be one of those rare cases.
Southfield's Thursday afternoon matchup with Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison last week featured four prospects committed to BCS programs, and a couple more boasting BCS offers. Hill is not in that group, but he looked like the best player on the field in the first half of that game.
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Hill set the tone early with several bone-jarring hits, notching five first-half solo tackles and nearly knocking Harrison's starting quarterback out of the game. He is a great asset in run support, coming downhill hard and punishing ballcarriers.
In pass coverage, Hill is long and rangy. He broke up several passes most defensive backs would not have been able to reach. He notched an interception the week before in Southfield's opening game.
It is hard to understand why Hill is not receiving more looks from college programs. He is a legitimate 6-foot-1 and looks every bit of his listed 185 pounds, with room to add more bulk. He was one of the most impressive physical specimens on a field loaded with great looking athletes in the Harrison game.
Speed is definitely not Hill's problem. He finished seventh in the state finals of the 100-meter dash last spring as a junior, earning all-state honors in Michigan's highest division. At Bowling Green's Friday Night Lights camp this summer he clocked a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, and he shows "football speed" on the field as well.
College coaches will shy away from a prospect if he has problems in the classroom, but Hill carries a 2.89 GPA and scored a 19 on the ACT, numbers that will allow him to easily pass the NCAA Clearinghouse. His coaches also trust him to make the calls for the defensive secondary.
The measurements are there, the play on the field is eye-catching, but Hill remains without an offer two games into his senior season. In fact, few teams have even contacted the senior. Three of his teammates sport BCS offers, so college coaches were in the school this spring, but Hill rarely spoke with them.
"I went to a couple camps this summer and talked to some coaches at camps, but that was about it," Hill said.
One of the camps Hill attended this summer was at the University of Cincinnati. His teammate, cornerback Leviticus Payne, has already committed to the Bearcats, and Hill would love to join him at the Big East school.
"Growing up, I was a fan of Cincinnati," Hill said. "Mardy Gilyard was one of my favorite players when I played receiver."
Hill tagged along with Payne when the coaches were giving a campus tour, but did not have individual conversations with any of their staff members. A coach from Dayton pulled him aside during the camp, but he had little interaction with the Cincinnati coaches.
Bowling Green has also attracted Hill's interest and he would love to hear more from their coaches. Illinois and Western Michigan are two more programs that Hill believes may be watching his progress this fall.
Besides Payne, Southfield also features three-star tight end Ron Thompson and three-star athlete Brandon Watkins. Those prospects have generated numerous Division I offers, while Hill is struggling to get coaches to even take a look at him. Hill has the support of his teammates, but does see one difference between his teammates and himself.
"They did a lot of the 7-on-7's in the off-season, which I wasn't a part of," he noted. "They keep saying to work hard and be a factor in the games… always be a playmaker."
Hill has taken that instruction to heart based on his play through two games this fall. Southfield won the opener 53-0 over Detroit Northwestern and came close to knocking off Harrison, RivalsHigh's No. 8 team nationally at the time. Hill's presence in Southfield's defensive backfield helped limit Harrison four-star wide receiver Aaron Burbridge to just three catches for 30 yards and three-star tight end Devin Funchess to two receptions for 28 yards.
On a field full of elite athletes, Hill shone as bright as anyone last Thursday. The question now is which college program will see the light and steal a hidden gem late in the process?