Justin Hilliard Working To Prove He Can Play Any Linebacker Spot, ‘Want To Be As Versatile As Possible’

We’re just under three weeks away from the beginning of the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, April 29. The three day event will certainly see over 200 potential customers have their imagine hearing their named called from the draft phase become a reality.

For Ohio native Justin Hilliard, it would certainly mark the start of a brand-new journey in his residence state where he initially fell for the game.

Hilliard was birthed in Cleveland and elevated in Cincinnati as well as was always following in his older sibling C.J.’s footsteps. When C.J. began playing football in the third grade, Justin desired to play. In the very early days, that indicated accentuating a couple of qualities on his sibling’s team as well as consequently, getting knocked around a bit.

” Whatever group my brother was on, my moms and dads simply put me on that particular team. I was playing on a third grade group as a first as well as just obtaining absolutely tossed about,” claimed Hilliard laughing. “I can not claim I loved it in the beginning, however over the years, I constructed a love for it. The get in touch with, the prep work, every little thing that included it. It was an amusing trip, up until I would state, secondary school baseball was my sport as well as football took control of afterwards.”

Though he took his swellings early, Hilliard credit histories those early days with molding the durability and fire that he plays the video game with today.

” After you keep losing like that you have two alternatives. You either gave up or you find a means to win. I was sort of forced to discover a means to win,” claimed Hilliard.

Hilliard’s high school football occupation saw him climb from the third group as a fresher to becoming a five-star prospect, placed as the 35th ideal possibility country wide and the third-best at his setting in his course. After devoting to play for the hometown Buckeyes, his career hit a rough spot as he dealt with numerous injuries that maintained him from making the sort of effect he wished to in his initial number of years in Columbus. Recalling, he says that those times were the hardest he’s been through however it made him a better person overall.

” That was probably one of the hardest times of my life particularly when I was handling these injuries due to the fact that I was away from the ready as long, the game that I like a lot. I think the hardest point was that I saw myself playing at this high degree yet I wasn’t able to arrive because of some injuries and also different things,” stated Hilliard. “That was an actually tough time however how I had the ability to press with that with the support of my coaches and colleagues, I believe that made me a better individual, much better gamer, a much better colleague.”

As soon as he had the ability to hop on the field regularly, he began making the sort of influence he expected. In the stretch run of the 2020 period, he stuck out making 25 takes on, five for loss, recuperating a pair of fumbles and also selecting off a pass in the Buckeyes final 3 video games versus Northwestern, Clemson and also Alabama. He continued that solid stretch into the Senior Bowl, attracting full marks from Director Jim Nagy.

Experiencing the draft procedure, Hilliard has actually been chatting with former Buckeyes colleagues in addition to previous Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly as well as Hilliard are alums of the same senior high school, St. Xavier, and Hilliard says that the NFL expert has actually been an advisor of his given that senior high school. He likewise indicates Kuechly’s game as one of his favored players to view.

” I possibly enjoy the most movie on Luke Kuechly since he’s so enjoyable to watch. If you watch him, he’s pointing out points before the play that no person else knows as well as you can see that taking place. He’s one of the most fun to see,” stated Hilliard. “I do not assume I play like him, if I had to say a person I play like maybe Lavonte David, some Bobby Wagner, are some of the other guys I watch too. The method they play the game, the hostile nature they strike with.”

With the Senior Bowl and also Pro Day behind him, Hilliard says his largest focus today is on obtaining much more comfortable at the within linebacker areas after spending the last couple of years outside.

” Right currently the greatest thing is the last two years I’ve played out in space at our Sam placement. I intend to be as functional as feasible, so I’m functioning truly tough on returning in the feeling of things of being inside at the Mike and also Will placement,” stated Hilliard. “It’s pretty comparable however often, the eyes and reviews of what you’re seeing is a little bit different. I simply want to keep functioning the video game, boost my football IQ and return in the feeling of things being inside.”

The adaptability that Hilliard gives the table becomes part of the draw of his video game. The various other component? His drive as well as consistent effort.

” First and also leading is the means I play the video game. The first thing I normally inform precursors as well as trainers is, it’s most likely mosting likely to be difficult to locate any use film where I took off of that I’m not boldy running to the round,” claimed Hilliard. “The most significant component of my video game as well as why I had the ability to make a lot of plays is the means I seek the round and also the way I play the game. I think scouts had the ability to see that as well as coaches were able to see that on film.”

Hilliard’s wishing that film will certainly bring about his name being called throughout those 3 days late this month. The 2021 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 29 at 8 p.m. ET.

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