|Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier LB Justin Hilliard|
Weight: 225 lbs.
High school: Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier
Notes: Holds offers from Akron, Alabama, Arkansas, Boston College, Bowling Green, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Penn State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Toledo, Virginia, Western Michigan . . . ESPN 4-star, 81 grade, #8 OLB, #145 overall . . . Rivals 4-star . . . Scout 4-star, #6 OLB . . . 247 Sports 5-star, 98 grade, #1 OLB, #17 overall . . . As a junior in 2012, had 65 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble . . . Brother C.J. Hilliard is a class of 2014 running back who committed to Iowa in June
Strengths: Nice frame . . . Body that can hold additional weight . . . Very physical when taking on blockers . . . Has a powerful punch to separate himself from blockers . . . Keeps hands and elbows inside to generate leverage . . . Shows an effective swim move in pass rush . . . Protects his chest by swiveling upper body when side-stepping blockers . . . Very effective hitter . . . Hits with shoulders square and driving feet . . . Solid play recognition skills . . . Shows good field awareness in zone coverage drops . . . Takes good angles to football and stays out of the trash . . . Active hands to bat down passes, strip the football, etc.
Weaknesses: Good speed but not the fastest linebacker around . . . A little stiff in the hips and may not be a great man coverage defender
Projection: Linebacker. I know that's vague, and it would depend on the system, but I could see Hilliard playing any of the three or four linebacker positions in a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense. He has good recognition skills, enough to play on the inside. He also has heavy enough hands and a good enough reach to take on tight ends and an occasional lineman as an outside linebacker. He has a relatively lean frame that could see him stay around 225-230 or bulk up to 240-245 lbs. if he wanted. In my opinion, he's the best class of 2015 prospect in the state of Ohio I've seen so far. I see Hilliard as a guy who could come in to just about any program and play early, potentially growing into an All-American candidate and NFL draft pick.
Reminds me of: Clay Matthews
Likelihood of coming to Michigan: Hilliard likes Michigan, camped in Ann Arbor in June, and will visit for the game against Ohio State. The front runners appear to be Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, and Notre Dame. Having a brother at Iowa might be a pull, and the Hawkeyes do develop very good defensive players, but I think he'll have his sights set higher than that. I have a feeling that Hilliard will not pick the Wolverines in the end, but they're not out of the running. If I had to take a stab right now, I would say Alabama because I think he would fit well with their defensive philosophy.
Highlights: Highlights can be found on Hudl.