Explosive Arkansas wide receiver K.J. Hill holds an expansive list of scholarship offers but recently narrowed his focus to five programs. The 4-star prospect plans to spend official visits at Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Notre Dame and Ohio State, per his high school.
Hill, who caught 63 passes for 1,143 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013, is rated 22nd nationally among receivers in 247Sports' composite rankings. The North Little Rock High School senior holds the distinction of consensus No. 1 recruit in Arkansas.
He's expected to announce his decision date following a Tuesday evening scrimmage, according to Dudley Dawson of Scout.com, setting the timeline for teams to make an impact in this recruiting process. Hill, also a highly regarded guard on the basketball court, is a key target for the in-state Razorbacks, but other options in the SEC and beyond present possibilities.
The 6'0", 190-pound playmaker impressed at The Opening, an invite-only July football showcase at Nike's world headquarters in Oregon. He teamed up with USC quarterback commit Ricky Town to reach the championship game of a talent-laden seven-on-seven tournament.
Hill's big-play ability and reputation for plucking the ball away from his body make him a candidate to compete for early playing time in college. Each team in his top five presents a unique opportunity.
Nick Saban has the Crimson Tide cruising toward a fifth straight No. 1 recruiting class. Naturally, that success creates a crowded and talented depth chart.
Receiver is no exception, as Alabama holds commitments from two of the nation's top 20 prospects at the position. Calvin Ridley (No. 1) and Daylon Charlot (No. 16) pledged earlier this cycle, while 2014 signees Cameron Sims and Derek Kief were 4-star recruits.
Hill spent time in Tuscaloosa for the team's spring game and returned earlier this month. First-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin inherited a plethora of playmakers and could add Hill to the stockpile if he can convince him there's an opportunity to compete for early consideration in the receiver rotation.
There's a lot to like about the Tide's aerial attack moving forward, especially with 5-star California quarterback Blake Barnett on board. Hill might not emerge as the No. 1 target at Alabama but would lend versatility to a loaded group.
The Razorbacks didn't exactly set the world on fire during Bret Bielema's first season at the helm, losing nine straight contests to close out the season. The head coach and his staff are in the process of reshaping the roster and perimeter offensive players are imperative.
Hill, who received an Arkansas offer early last season, has the skill set to contend for a sizeable role with the Razorbacks in 2015. The team landed multiple receivers in its 2014 class, but none commanded the attention Hill has received during his recruitment.
In-state pass target Deon Stewart, ranked 88th nationally among receivers, stands alone as Arkansas' only 2015 pledge at the position. Hill has been a top priority for the Razorbacks since last September and is the kind of talent Bielema can't afford to let leave state borders.
Arkansas holds a commitment from 4-star quarterback Ty Storey, who has tossed 100 touchdown passes during the past two seasons. Expect him to work on selling a fellow homegrown product to join team up together with the in-state program.
Hill visited the Razorbacks with uncommitted 4-star tight end Will Gragg last weekend. Both players have the potential to change the dynamics of Arkansas' offense.
“It was nice,” Hill told Richard Davenport of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “It really did put something in me, in my heart about staying at home. It was a good visit.”
Gators fans are clamoring for signs of explosiveness from the Florida offensive attack, which struggled mightily last autumn due to injuries and lack of execution. An unproductive 2013 campaign concerns recruits, many of whom have shared they're taking a wait-and-see approach before pulling the trigger on a commitment.
Will Muschamp needs a strong year to restore faith, which could help land a much-needed playmaker in Hill. The Gators have lost pledges this summer from multiple prospects at the position, though the late July addition of 3-star in-state receiver Kalif Jackson eases the sting a bit.
Florida lost 5-star pass-catcher Ermon Lane during the final stretch toward last signing day when he flipped to Florida State. His departure created a need for an infusion of top-tier talent atop the depth chart in coming years.
Hill would have every opportunity to claim an expansive role with the Gators as a true freshman.
The Gators landed Elite 11 quarterback Sheriron Jones in June and have celebrated 2014 signees Treon Harris and Will Grier waiting in the wings, so there is promise for sustained offensive success moving ahead.
Another disappointing season could spell doom for the current Gators coaching regime, but a bounce-back effort would reinvigorate a program that has major potential for growth in this recruiting class. Hill added an offer from the team in April and is interested enough to visit The Swamp.
The Fighting Irish may not come away with a top quarterback in this class (or any passer at all perhaps), but Brian Kelly has done a nice job assembling a solid collection of receivers. Speedster C.J. Sanders, 6'4" target Miles Boykin and Texas standout Jalen Guyton give the team a trio of options.
Hill, rated higher than each of them, would create excellent depth at the position if he heads to South Bend. The Irish continue to maintain contact but haven't yet hosted him on campus.
“Coach Kelly just wants me to get up there to get the environment,” Hill told Christian McCollum of IrishSportsDaily.com. "When I get up there, I just want to see if that’s me. I want to see if I can fit in up there, if the coaches are down to earth and if I can play for them.”
Notre Dame faces a challenge in terms of proximity, as Hill is largely expected to stay in SEC territory. Still, Kelly is a coach who likes to get vertical on offense, and that's appealing for a playmaker who excels when called upon to attack the secondary.
The Buckeyes must also overcome a regional disadvantage in the race for Hill's commitment. Urban Meyer has shown time and time again the ability to reach back into the southeast for talent, and he'll need to do the same in this instance.
Ohio State stocked up with receiver talent during the 2014 recruiting cycle but is still searching for its first 2015 commitment from a pass-catcher. The team was a finalist for 4-star recruit Van Jefferson before losing out to Georgia for his pledge Monday.
Hill, who added an offer from the Buckeyes in March, could see a fit in Columbus and arrive on campus as the team's unquestioned top incoming receiver. Ohio State seems to be a lock for 5-star dual-threat quarterback Torrance Gibson and remains in good shape with top-ranked running back Damien Harris, setting the stage for an explosive attack in Meyer's offensive scheme.
The Buckeyes also bring back Heisman Trophy contender Braxton Miller in 2015, giving Hill a chance to run routes for a proven passer. Few coaches can sell a player on their offensive vision like Meyer, and there appears to be plenty for him to pitch in that regard these days.
Florida could threaten the Razorbacks here if things get back on track for the Gators this fall, but the home team is on top right now.
Arkansas has been at the forefront of Hill's recruitment for a while, establishing outstanding rapport along the way. It's difficult to lock down a key commitment when you're riding a nine-game losing streak so signs of improvement are imperative for Arkansas to convince prospects the program is worth an investment.
Hill would have a clearer path to playing time in Fayetteville than other potential landing spots, allowing him to emerge as a potential No. 1 option in the passing game before the end of his sophomore season.
The Razorbacks have collected an impressive stable of quarterback prospects, and Bielema is building things up in the trenches. It's time for Arkansas to secure a true difference-maker on the outside, and Hill fits the bill.
Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.