In the history of Slippery Rock football, only four players have had the privilege of hearing their names called out during the NFL’s annual entry draft. Senior running back Wes Hills, a transfer from the University of Delaware, appears poised to become the highest selected Rock football player ever.
Hills’ collegiate football career has taken some twists and turns with a four-year stint at Delaware in which – when healthy – Hills excelled on the field. A productive two year stretch during Hill’s sophomore and junior years saw him rack up 1,680 yards at 6.9 yards a clip. The 6’2” 205-pound half back from Wildwood, New Jersey also found the end zone 13 times.
In a trend that continued on at The Rock, Hills was a two-year captain at Delaware. Slippery Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said he did not know Hills well before coming onto campus but his impact with teammates was immediate.
“As good a player that he is, he’s a better person,” commented Lutz. “He was a captain at Delaware for his last two years and he got picked to be a captain here after only being here for camp. That’s how well his teammates liked him.”
Following a historic season in which Hills broke a 24-year-old Rock rushing record —previously held by former Rock running back LaMonte Coleman —with 1,714 yards and added 17 touchdowns, Hills earned an invite to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Now the second Rock player to earn an invite in the last two years following defensive end Marcus Martin’s invite last season, Hills wants to show that he is a complete running back capable of competing with the best the NCAA has to offer.
“The biggest desire that I have is to showcase what I can do,” stated Hills. “The biggest thing for me is to go there and put all comparisons, all red flags that I have or whether I can play against bigger competition to bed.”
While Hills originally looked at leaving Delaware as a potential pitfall, the talented senior used the hardship as a chance to grow as a person and a player.
“I thought I had a legit shot when I was playing at my old school. I had a lot of talk and a lot buzz around my name that I could do it. I hit a bump in the road, but I grew from it and I chose to come here and help this team as best as I could,” Hills said.
Coming to Slippery Rock allowed Hills to play against competition from one of the toughest football conferences in all of Division II and despite missing two full games and all but two snaps of a third, Hills led the PSAC in rushing yards and yards per attempt.
Spearheading the Green and White’s offense down the stretch with 180 yards per game over the final three regular season games and four playoff games, Hills rushed for over 100 yards in all but one of those games.
Now that his season is over, and his collegiate eligibility has come to an end, Hills said that everything he wanted to accomplish during his brief time at The Rock ended up being reached.
“The goal was to come here, showcase what I can do, answer a lot of questions about sitting out a year,” Hills said. “I wanted to come here, be part of a team, be part of something great and work hard with the team in the summer. We all worked hard to leave our mark. Come in and try to do something great. Which we did. We were really close to accomplishing our goal.”
Well-loved among teammates and coaches, supremely talented and accomplished on the football field and now given the opportunity to showcase his talent to over 200 general managers, head coaches and scouts from all NFL teams, Hills has not regretted choosing Slippery Rock over bigger programs he originally considered.
“Slippery Rock put me in a position to do this and I couldn’t ask to be a part of a better family,” Hills said.
With four former Division II running backs on NFL rosters to begin the 2018-2019 season, Hills hopes he can join their ranks and welcomes the chance to prove himself in every way that he knows how.
“Whether it’s running the ball, playing special teams or just being that presence in the locker room,” said Hills. “I’m a great character guy, everyone loves being around me and I feel like I bring that energy.”
An all—expenses paid trip to Los Angeles, California at the end of January awaits Hills who will have the opportunity to work under either former Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano or former Minnesota Vikings’ head coach Mike Tice. The week-long camp will afford Hills the chance to gain valuable information from current NFL coaches and showcase his ability on and off the field.
A game at the famous Rose Bowl Stadium at the end of the week will pit Hills against the best Division I and II players from around the country. A strong showing would go a long way in elevating the sixth or seventh round draft grade Hills received from scouts before the season.
Hills, who will be 24 at the start of NFL training camps next summer, feels blessed to be in the situation he finds himself in now and looks forward to making not just himself proud but all of Slippery Rock.
“I’m just happy that I can go out there and play against top competition and be part of that experience,” said Hills. “It means a lot for this school and it means a lot for myself.”