Peyton Hillis: His Road to the Cleveland Browns

Joe HunleyContributor IDecember 4, 2010

Peyton Hillis
Peyton HillisMatt Sullivan/Getty Images

Peyton Hillis, running back for the Cleveland Browns, has become the subject of numerous sports articles, blogs and your typical football chatter among friends and rivals. 

Hillis has rapidly become the major offensive weapon of the Cleveland Browns. With his punishing, hard-hitting style of running, and an occasional leap over a defender, Hillis is a crowd favorite, not to mention he is fun to watch.

Hillis is becoming somewhat of a hero in Cleveland, giving fans something to cheer about and adding excitement to a rather lackluster Cleveland Browns offense. Browns fans can only be thankful that the Denver Broncos put Hillis on the road to Cleveland.

Racking up yards running the football seems to be a gift that came to Hillis at an early age.

In 2003, while attending Conway High School in Conway, Ark., Hillis averaged 10.1 yards per carry and rushed for 2,631 yards in his senior year. His performance in high school prompted many major colleges to recruit Hillis.

Alabama, Tennessee and Michigan were in the mix; however, Hillis chose the University of Arkansas.

During his stay at Arkansas, Hillis would find himself playing behind a couple up-and-coming running backs in Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Because of the high-profile running backs in front of him, Hillis had to become a very versatile player.

He would be used as a wide receiver, tight end, running back and kick returner.

Hillis, although not being the headline running back for Arkansas, did manage to accumulate respectable statistics his senior year, with 348 yards rushing on 62 carries and 539 yards on 49 receptions. In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos would take Hillis in the seventh round.

Hillis started his 2008 season as the Broncos fullback, later to be named the starting running back due to Ryan Torain being injured playing in a game against the Cleveland Browns. Hillis would run for 343 yards on 68 carries for an average of five yards per carry before suffering a tear in his right hamstring that would bench him for the remainder of the year.

Hillis was used very little by the Broncos in 2009, having only 13 carries for 54 yards, partially because of the addition of Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. The Denver Broncos, wanting Brady Quinn, a quarterback in Cleveland, would send Hillis and a sixth-round draft pick in 2011 with a conditional pick in 2012 to Cleveland in exchange for Quinn.

Eleven games into the season, Hillis has rushed for 905 yards on 199 carries and caught 46 passes for 414 yards for the Cleveland Browns. It is interesting to note that Hillis is ranked No. 9 in running back rankings at this time, which is above any running back he sat behind at Arkansas or Denver.

Hillis has added a great deal of excitement to a fan base so desperate for something to cheer about, as opposing teams are often victimized by this runaway freight train. Watching Hillis interviews, one can only say that he is down to earth with his camouflage t-shirt and he seems grateful for the opportunity to be here.

A perfect fit, a bruising running back in a blue-collar city that loves hard hitting football. Thanks to the Broncos, for putting Hillis on the road to Cleveland.