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Irish A-to-Z: Kolin Hill

Jul 13, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

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One of the last players on Notre Dame’s radar during the 2014 recruiting cycle was Kolin Hill. The Texas native became a late-rising prospect, visiting South Bend in December and committing just days later. With the Irish in need of pass rush speed off the edge and 4-3 linebackers, Hill looks like the type of prospect who can do all jobs that are needed.

Hill is the product of Kerry Cooks’ continued recruiting success in Texas, where Hill played in the San Antonio area. With his twin brother Kaleb off to Boise State to play for the Broncos, let’s take a closer look at the incoming freshman from Schertz, Texas.


6’2, 220 lbs.



Hill didn’t appear on any national lists and his recruitment was mostly regional until his senior season. But some really impressive game film drew offers from Colorado and then Charlie Strong at Texas, so it’s not as if Hill doesn’t have the skills to compete. On Signing Day, Brian Kelly talked about a player that flew under the radar, an impressive athlete that Kelly likely built his coaching reputation finding.

“Colin was a young man that we offered when he didn’t have a lot of action, but we saw a young man that we thought we could develop into just an outstanding football player,” Kelly said.  “After we offered him, of course then he got a million offers after that…  Here’s a guy that really will continue to just develop.  He has not even seen his ceiling yet.  Really excited about Colin and what he can do for us at the linebacker position.”



When it comes to Hill, the upside potential seems enormous. One look at his high school tape shows a kid that knows how to come off the edge and wreak havoc, but doesn’t seem to be the most polished high school player. That’s not a bad thing. In recruiting, sometimes it’s a very good thing. When Cooks talked about Hill, he mentioned similarities to Prince Shembo, another “linebacker” who did his best work coming off the edge.

Hill’s size and length (if he doesn’t keep growing) might limit him in the future, but as long as his speed holds up, he should add a much-needed dimension to the Irish roster, someone who can get after the quarterback. That alone makes him an important recruit, and another one of Cooks comments from Signing Day should have Irish fans quite excited.

“Needless to say, when you see Kolin hill, you see a very impressive raw talent,” Cooks said. “The teams that he played through his high school career: he just dominated them. I didn’t see one offensive tackle or tight end stop him.”



If you were a betting man, Hill seems like a perfect redshirt candidate. But if there’s one type of player that can get on the field quickly for Kelly, it’s a situational pass rusher. With Brian VanGorder’s defense hoping Ishaq Williams and Romeo Okwara can provide the heat off the edge, Hill’s explosiveness could be enough to get him some snaps at defensive end or rush linebacker and just let him loose with one thing on his mind: Getting the quarterback.

Recruits like Hill are intriguing because they show how different players fit different schemes and profiles. Never a guy that would’ve fit in Bob Diaco’s scheme, if Hill comes in and has an impressive career in South Bend, it’ll be a reminder that playmakers come in all shapes and sizes.

When the Irish defense was dominant under Diaco, the size and strength of the front seven could’ve served as an indictment on the speed and athleticism that defines Hill’s profile. But if the Irish defense succeeds with smaller, more athletic players on the edges, it’s not necessarily a black mark on Diaco, but rather an impressive feat by Kelly, a head coach with the ability to play stellar defense in two very different styles.

All that being said, it’s not a black or white issue. Give Hill a few years in a college weight room and he’s Prince Shembo, a four-year contributor in the Irish’s 3-4 defense. Shembo profiled similarly to Darius Fleming, the first Cat linebacker in Kelly’s defense.

The bottom line for Hill is that his talent will take him where he needs to go. And on a roster in need of pass rushers, if he’s got enough of it, this staff will find a job for him.



The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman

  1. nd1rishfan - Jul 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    This kid looks good. Great first step, sheds blocks, non-stop motor, keeps pursuit to the ball, good use of hands.

    It’ll be interesting to see his continued growth and how he’s used in VanGorder’s scheme.

    Looks like a good get.

  2. shaunodame - Jul 13, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    All of these “undersized” LB’s we’ve added remind me of guys like Brian Smith, Maurice Crum, and Kerry Neal.

  3. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 13, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Kollin Hill is top top SEC quality player. I have watched this kid live and he is awesome ! This kid will be one of our top players over the years. There is a reason Mack Brown was going after Kollin and its not often that ND steals top recruits away from Texas.

    • bernhtp - Jul 13, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      I thought you didn’t like 3-star players with no national ranking?

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        I never said that I didn’t like 3 star players. If you look at the teams that won the NC they are all the teams that recruit the blue chip players year in year out. By that rating Notre Dame is not going after a NC but more in line for the Bell Helicopter Bowl.

    • nudeman - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      Helicopter Bowl. Ha ha. That actually was pretty good.
      No it wasn’t.

      I’m sure you know that, all things being equal, in any given year there are probably about 100-125 kids out of the top 250 who you can just take right off the board for due exclusively to academics.

      Let’s be conservative and say it’s 100, leaving 150 for ND to chase.
      Of that 150, you can probably take out another 75 because of location, location, location.
      If you grow up in Southern CA/Palm Beach/Southeastern US/etc, you really want to go to northwest Indiana for 3-4 years? Most don’t.

      So that leaves 75 who are theoretically in play for ND. Of those 75 (probably actually a smaller number), 30-40 don’t want to work that hard in school, even though they’re qualified. So you’re now down to around 35, give or take. Of those 35, ND fights tooth and nail with AL, USC, UM, OSU, Northwestern, UCLA, TX, OK, etc. all of whom (except maybe Northwestern) offer more babes, an easier time in the classroom and better locales (Chicago, Southern CA beat SB hands down).

      ND wins some of those and they lose some. Simple as that. Until ND moves from SB to the Gold Coast in Chicago or Bermuda, drops academic standards through the floor and hires a bagman, it ain’t changing.

      So stop with the inane points.

      • bernhtp - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        In an average year, ND can only actually enroll about 20 of the ESPN 100, sometimes a bit more depending upon how much Admissions allows a stretch. Don’t get confused by offers, which just mean that the film looks good and ND needs to take a much closer look at academic records. The stretches have not been working out well where a high percentage of the last minute misses, non-enrollees, and transfers are due to academics (more than people think).

        My belief is that the current recruiting class thus far represents a shift to this reality – RKG is becoming more of a recruiting focus than just a saying.

        To get a few five stars each year, ND must land a very high percentage of the Jaylon Smiths that occasionally emerge. This is a truly minuscule sliver of the available recruits. I don’t think that ND can possibly match the recent recruiting classes of Alabama even if they got about everyone they really wanted (and could qualify).

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:21 PM

        So what you are saying is Notre Dame is on its way of being another Princeton or Yale ? The sport that built Notre Dame Football is leaving South Bend ? All Fans should just embrace mediocrity in South Bend ? The glory days have past us by … That is why I said the only possible expectation for the fans is Notre Dame football to become as good as Stanford. A few 10 win seasons and never play for a NC.

      • nudeman - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:32 PM

        Well in all seriousness I think that is a distinct possibility and has been discussed here before.
        Of all the impediments I mentioned – academics, geography, weather, babes – academics is by far and away the biggest. Whatever is 2nd is a distant 2nd.

        The CFB landscape has shifted so dramatically the last few years towards money and away from the traditional student athlete approach ND still embraces that it’s exponentially harder for ND to ever get back to the glory days. If they want to compromise the academic integrity that makes fans and alum proud, that could change. But I never see them doing that and hope they don’t.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:50 PM

        Nudeman I have to say that I think ND is already compromising academics. Instead of building a degree program around the student ND offers 24/7 tutor service for these kids. In the end the players are being held by the hand by sharp kids. They have an advantage over the common student at ND. So in a way these kids are not like other students as they are being coached up before exams etc. Its all how you look it but even ND isn’t void of having to get around academic requirements.

      • bernhtp - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:24 PM

        The scholarship athletes still need to take real academic classes (there are no others) and majors, go to class, and live in dorms intermixed with non-athletes.

        They do get extra supervision and support. The supervision ensures accountability. If they miss class, for example, they are likely to get team penalties, e.g., game suspensions as we’ve seen several times. The do get extra support in terms of tutoring, supervised study sessions, etc. The time management is difficult for them. Most football athletes are nowhere near getting admitted without their athletic skills, must spend countless hours in practice, travel, games, film study, weight room, etc., and then be compete with the best and brightest minds in the country in class. They need and deserve this help, but ultimately they do the work.

      • mtflsmitty - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:20 AM

        Nude and Bern,

        You guys are two of my favorite posters here. Both smart, informed, good writers. But why in the hell are you actually engaging this jackass? He has no interest in honest debate. He’s just here, like dozens that came before, to try to get attention.


      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:15 AM

        I have to say I disagree ! I think all teams bend the rules its just how they decide to do it. Notre Dame I would agree does it the most honorable way but still we are the same as many of the schools out there. If you have tutors giving kids the answers its a direct attack on the real students who actually study and compete at the highest level. I love ND football but some of you seriously need to stop using ND as a vice. I have friends who have generations of graduates from ND and even they see it as it is. You so called sub alums have no idea. You are dreaming and living in a fantasy. No guys when we win 8 games per year its not because we dont cheat its because we just aren’t that good anymore.

        …. from an average sub alum….

  4. 25kgold - Jul 13, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    GOOOAAAALLLLL, Irish! Time for some real football!

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:06 AM

      Appreciate the enthusiasm….but still 48 days to game time and when does fall camp start anyway?

      We need a JV program in D1 football to get us through the off season. Give the younger kids and walk-ons some playing time and give me some FOOTBALL to watch.

      Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed World Cup FUTBAL, but I need me some FOOTBALL now.

  5. irishdog80 - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:30 AM

    Great tape. I love the suddenness of his game.

  6. yaketyyacc - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:20 AM

    still 47 players to go, good luck Keith. hope you kept some wiggle room incase of some earth shaking news, like Father Jenkins transferring to USC.

  7. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    I just saw the coaching rankings and saw that Brian K is in the top ten of coaching. These rankings are mostly based on win/loss percentages but honestly can we really compare Brian K wins at Grand Valley State and Central Michigan with Bob Stoops Div 1 wins . I think Brian K is good but I don’t think he is in the same category . Honestly they think Brian K is better than David Shaw or even Art Briles. I dont care what these people say until Brian K can put a team together that can win 10+ at least 3 years he is not a top 10 college coach.

    • nudeman - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      If it’s based purely on Wins and Losses, you might have a point.

      He has a different playing field than virtually everyone else including Stanford. Stanford is just as rigorous (or more) academically but in January in Palo Alto it’s 65 and sunny.

      And btw, I am not impressed with Shaw at all. I thought he lost that game in South Bend 2 years ago with terrible goal line play calling. A simple play action pass and ND never sees the NC game.

      I’d probably put Kelly in the top 10. Not top 5 though. Not yet, anyway

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:09 PM

        What are you talking about Shaw would have tied the game if it wasn’t for crappy play calling, Hell even Lou Hotlz agrees that Stanford scored on the first drive. Pure Rubbish and if it wasnt for the incredibly terrible kick of Pitt Nd would have been sent back with the fishes. That year was pure luck and at the end we were exposed as a Boise State team from the MAC. Alabama abused us like a hooker in the middle east. You have 0 facts to backup your statement that Brian K is in the top ten. That is a complete joke. Brian K play calling has been so suspect and I still don’t see a run game emerging . I put Charlie Strong in the same category as Brian K. Potential but without winning the big games and winning only 8 we are another Will Muschamp team.

      • nudeman - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        “You have 0 facts to backup your statement that Brian K is in the top ten.”

        Correct. It’s an opinion.
        “Zero facts”. Jesus …

        Now rivaling getsome/Knute for the biggest clown on this board.

    • papadec - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      When I need a good laugh, I come to Keith’s and look for a jg post. Nude takes jg to the mat on the three star players – and sure enough jg jumps to ragging on Kelly. Gotta agree with nude regarding Shaw too.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:08 PM

        I love a good laugh ! Please tell me how Nd is gonna make it to the playoffs… HEHE . Seriously I will say with Golson last year we probably do hang in there with Oklahoma and Michigan. We never lose to pitt. I say in all fairness I say we might have won 10 games last year. So this year could have potential. Defense is gonna drop so we are gonna have to score big time in order to stay in the games.

  8. irishdog80 - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    David Shaw/Stanford with Tommy Rees at QB. What would their record be?

    • nudeman - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      Hogan looks to be a very thin shade better than Rees, IMO
      VERY thin. Not impressed there at all

      • irishdog80 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        Overall agree. Hogan started out looking pretty solid, but has become a bit of a disappointment. Hogan’s ceiling is still higher than Rees’s…Hogan’s a better overall athlete that opens the field a bit more for Stanford.

        The better question is what would ND’s record be with an Andrew Luck level QB at ND. Kelly’s overall record has lagged almost solely due to poor to mediocre QB play at ND.

      • irishdog80 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        True QB talent reveals itself in big games and big situations. I am hard pressed to think of a play that Rees made that any other mid-major QB couldn’t make and Crist made bad plays in big situations. They were both mediocre to poor in the situations that make the difference between 8 wins and double digit wins. Hogan is slightly more reliable–he does not have many truly bone headed plays and has made enough plays with his arm or legs to be better than Rees.

        Look at the plays Golson made that got us to the NCG in 2013.

      • nudeman - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:17 PM

        ” I am hard pressed to think of a play that Rees made that any other mid-major QB couldn’t make. ”

        Well … there were those 8-10 passes he threw that weren’t interceptions.
        Just sayin’ …
        So the cupboard wasn’t completely bare

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:11 PM

        True but guess what up until now Alabama hasn’t had huge QB talent but they seem to win.

      • irishdog80 - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:41 PM

        Alabama became the dominant Alabama once McCarron took over. Say what you will about his shortcomngs, but he was significantly better than both Rees and Crist. Now add in the recruiting advantage that you have when your team is as successful as they were with AJ, and you have the current recruiting juggernaut that is Alabama. If ND had a competent QB for the most of the past 4 years, we would have more wins and even better recruiting. That said, if Golson, Zaire and Kizer live up to their hype and the O-line is what we think it is…ND is set up for a long run of success and even stronger recruiting.

        If 2014 is a bust, I will agree with many of your comments. If ND is at least 10-2 this year…9-3 if the games are all tight…look out. Right now, I think your overall argument is faulty. Other than the Alabama game…we were out talented and especially on the o-line…we have not been out talented, we have been out QB’d. Our o-line and d-line will only be better in 2015 and beyond and also at QB.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:17 AM

        How many more years do we have to wait for a QB before the fans stand up and say ” THIS IS BS GET IT TOGETHER ND”

      • irishdog80 - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        With an emerging redshirt freshman at the helm, we went 12-0 and Golson was still learning the game. If Golson was at QB in 2013, we are not down 14-0 after a few minutes to Oklahoma and Pitt is a win…10+ wins is a certainty. The QB excuse/reason is now gone. If Kelly doesn’t have the offense humming this year, he is the problem.

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