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Justice Hill Heavier But More Nimble in 2017



In his season debut on Thursday night, All-American tailback Justice Hill picked up right where he left off last season in the Alamo Bowl. The sophomore from Booker T. Washington dodged, dived, dipped, ducked and dodged his way to 132 yards on a modest 15 carries against Tulsa, looking every bit the part of the preseason All-Big 12 performer many expected him to be.

Despite the 15 pounds of extra weight he says he put on this offseason in Robert Glass’s weight training program, Hill says he’s the same running back he was last season. But even that statement feels understated.

“I feel the same,” Hill said. “I’m just able to break a little more tackles, and pass protection is a lot easier.”

The same, huh? Don’t let the modesty fool you. Hill was physically gifted enough to rush for 1,000+ yards as a freshman in 2016, despite not earning the starting job out of the gate. But this season, a simple eye test is all you need to see he’s somehow more nimble and more powerful a runner.

Hill shed tackles left and right against Tulsa and, for good measure, threw in some shifty jump-cuts to prove he’s not lost a step as one of the top backs in the conference.

“Justice just looks different running,” Mason Rudolph said of No. 5. “He’s added 20 pounds, he’s stronger. Wow, it’s pretty cool to see him run and do his thing out there.”

Fifteen pounds heavier from where he left off last season, an improved burst, and an elusiveness the likes of which OSU hasn’t seen since Joe Randle? Hill has a little bit of everything that spearheads OSU’s fearsome rushing attack that rolled up 332 yards against Tulsa.

Hill’s modest approach and mentality may not come across like you might expect an All-American to behave, but that’s a sliver of what sets Hill apart from the others. Even after a 132-yard performance against TU, he deflected praise and built his teammates up.

“I think I did really well,” Hill said, “but I’m really more excited about J.D. and L.D. They really had some great runs and really built their confidence up. So it’s going to be a good year with all 3 of us.”


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