UW Over the Hill
Wisconsin Badger tailback P.J. Hill has announced that he will forego his senior season in Madison in order to enter this April’s NFL draft. Quite frankly, the news left me wondering why. Perhaps Hill wasn’t happy with the direction of the program or there is an underlying academic or financial reason. Or maybe he noted the mistake TE Travis Beckum made in hanging around a year too long. While Hill has had a nice “run” for the Badgers (he is 3rd on the career rushing list behing only Ron Dayne and Anthony Davis), his skill set generally reminds one of former Badger Heisman trophy winner Dayne. And as Badger football devotees know all too well, Dayne’s career in the NFL hasn’t exactly been an unqualified success. In fact, Dayne has bounced around with a number of teams after being selected in the first round by the New York Giants after becoming the NCAA’s all-time rushing leader at Wisconsin, never really fulfilling his promise. I have to believe that NFL teams will be unable to avoid comparing Hill with Dayne and will be reluctant to spend a high draft pick on him. Add to that the fact that Hill also had some trouble holding onto the ball at times this past season.
At any rate, don’t expect the Badger running attack to suffer much if at all in 2009. Hill’s departure opens the door for Racine native John Clay to become the primary ball carrier for UW next year. Clay rushed for 9 TDs and almost 900 yards backing up Hill in 2008 and his yards per carry average was a half-yard better than Hill’s at 5.7. The Badgers also return another junior tailback in Zach Brown, who rushed for 5.5 yards per carry last season. In addition they are expected to sign Montee Ball, a 6 foot, 215 lb. prep tailback who is the all-time leading rusher in Missouri. So it would seem the Badgers are well positioned to overcome the absence of P.J. Hill. If only they were that well stocked everywhere else.