By Chris McCarthy/Publisher/Editor
Braydon Hill is moving from one successful football program to another.
The Hokes Bluff High senior recently signed with Jacksonville State as a preferred walk-on.
“It’s something I’ve worked for since I was sophomore when I realized it was something I wanted to do,” he said. “To finally achieve that goal is really big for me.”
Hill helped the Eagles to an 11-2 record and a third straight trip to the Class 4A state quarterfinals. Hill caught 29 passes for 609 yards and eight touchdowns at receiver and had 52 tackles at linebacker. He was a Class 4A second team All-State selection and a first team All-Etowah County Schools selection and selecrted as Defensive Athlete on the All-Messenger football team.
Hill joins a Gamecock squad that went 9-4 in 2018 and won a record fifth straight outright Ohio Valley Conference title. JSU defeated East Tennessee State in the FCS playoffs before falling to Maine in the second round.
“I felt that the benefits JSU was better than anything other place that offered,” said Hill, who plans on studying exercise science. “[JSU] had the major I wanted to study and I would be close to home, so it wasn’t a difficult choice.”
Hill is open to playing any position that the JSU coaching staff sees fit.
“They said that they’d start me out at receiver but if they could get me up to 230 (pounds) they were talking about moving me to outside linebacker or strong safety. We’ll just see what happens. I just want to play; I don’t care where it’s at.”
In Hill’s three seasons as a starter, Hokes Bluff went 30-10 and made it to the state quarterfinals each of those years. In the three years prior to Hill’s arrival on the varsity, the Eagles went 6-24.
“It’s a great feeling of accomplishment after struggling for so long. Landon [John-son] and Fisher [Simmons] with their lea-dership, and then with Darrian [Meads] coming up as a freshman. I felt like we all helped end that drought.”
Hill already is familiar with one of his future teammates. Westbrook Christian senior lineman Jackson Luttrell signed with the Gamecocks earlier this month.
“We’re pretty good friends and we text pretty much every day,” said Hill. “I’m looking forward to finally playing [football] with him.”
Hokes Bluff head football coach Mike Robertson said that Hill is “a first-class student and a first-class person” in addition to his athletic talents.
“That goes a long way, because coaches do look for character,” said Robertson. “Athletically, Braydon has room to grow with his size and his weight to gain some bulk. I think he has a lot of potential; like all college athletics, it all depends on the amount of work you put into it.”