July 9, 2012

2014 back looking South?

DALLAS, Tex. - Armed with extremely quick feet, a well-developed lower body, and a world class mohawk, St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Oh.) athlete C.J. Hilliard had no problem going through the various drills at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge on Saturday.

In fact, the 5-foot-10, 185 pounder worked out at running back, and was as light on his feet and shifty as any player on the field at Desoto High School.

While his mind was firmly on the task at hand during the elite camp, he also couldn't help but anticipate what is coming up in the next week.

"I'm playing in that huge baseball tournament in Cobb County this week, so I'm pretty excited about that," said Hilliard. "Then after that, I talked with my dad and we are going to head over to Georgia and visit there."

Georgia isn't a school that does a great deal of recruiting in the Cincinnati area, but according to Hilliard, the Bulldogs started contacting him recently and have maintained consistent communication since.

"I started talking to Coach (Bryan) McClendon a months ago," said Hilliard. "They have been recruiting me a little bit and so I'm going to go down there and meet Coach (Mark) Richt for the first time and meet Coach McClendon. I'm looking forward to it."

While Hilliard's visit to the UGA campus may be his first, he is very familiar with the Georgia program.

A Georgia running back caught his eye a few years ago, and since then, he has made it a point to follow the Bulldogs.

"I really started watching them when Knowshon Moreno was there, and I liked him a lot," he said. "I have kept up with them ever since and followed what is going on with them. They had a good season last year and have a good program."

The rising junior, who has one early offer from Indiana, realizes that opportunity is present in the Georgia backfield.

"I know Isaiah Crowell had some troubles and isn't there any more," he said. "That doesn't really reflect badly on Georgia in my opinion. Things like that happen. It just lets me know that there is an opportunity there at Georgia for running backs."

While Bulldog and SEC fans may not be familiar with Hilliard's game at this point, he believes he has skills that translate well to the next level.

He also hopes those skills will translate to playing somewhere in the southeast.

"I'm a quick running back and I like to make guys miss and be tough to tackle," said Hilliard. "I really believe I am good at breaking down defenses out of the back field and I love being a receiver out of the back field. I want to play somewhere in the south where it is hot. Not as hot as it is here today, but somewhere hot."

As the Ohio native visits Athens this weekend and takes other visits in the future, he already knows what he will be looking for when meeting coaches and spending time on college campuses.

"I'm really looking for genuine relationships with the coaches," he said. "I mean, listen, coaches are going to tell you things and all that, but I am looking for the coaches that will be real with you and you know where you stand and everything. That is important to me."

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