As reporters surrounded Weber State University head football coach Jay Hill late Wednesday, one asked if Hill had just assembled his best class of football players. His answer was a simple yes, but, with a smirk, he said it was his worst as well.
Hill is entering his first season as head football coach after spending his time with the University of Utah as an assistant. Under his eye, he and his assistants were able to sign 34 players to national letters of intent, 21 of them coming from the state of Utah.
“We were able to get two or three players at every position that can come in and help us,” Hill said. “Getting players out of Utah is also a priority for us. We felt there was a really good class from Utah this year, and we were able to get a lot of them. We are very excited. We feel that we got a great mix of both offense and defense.”
After Hill was appointed head coach on Dec. 12, he and his staff have hit the recruiting trail hard, as they hope to rebuild a program that once was at the top of the Big Sky Conference. He said he hopes to apply some of the things he has learned throughout the years and build a system that will bring wins and help players perform at the best of their abilities.
“Each year in the state of Utah, you have those players that will go to Pac-12 schools, then those that will go to BYU and Utah State,” Hill said. “But after that, you have about 20-25 kids that have legit chances of playing Division 1 football, and that is who we went after and got.”
One of the players WSU hopes will make an immediate impact is De’Saan Hardwick, a running back transferring from San Diego State University. Hardwick is already enrolled in classes and looks to compete for a place in a crowded backfield that already contains Bo Bolen.
Hill said he loves the speed Hardwick can provide for the offense and is impressed with his work ethic in the weight room.
“He is very fast, explosive and strong, which helps us see great things in him,” Hill said. “He lifts like he is a lineman in the weight room; he is a strong kid and we are excited to see what he can do.”
Someone whom Wildcat faithful may hear plow the way for Hardwick and the other Wildcats will be Baron Bruce. Bruce is enrolled in classes after graduating early from Alta High School this past winter. He was a four-year letter-winner and a First-Team All-State performer his senior season.
Hill said he was pleased with Bruce signing with the Wildcats, and also mentioned that the O-line was something he and his staff put focus on during recruiting. Bruce said he is excited for the head start to have some time to mesh with his teammates and get physically ready for the transition to college football.
“I got an extra six months of that lifting, that running, getting to know the team, getting to know the lay of the land, feeling out what we do up here and what it’s about with these new coaches too,” Bruce said. “I feel like I got a head start on my entire class, and I’m thankful for that.”
Hill said he expects a third of the class will serve missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but that he wants them to still grab everyone’s attention when they get back. He said he is confident everyone who was signed will come in and compete for playing time sometime in their career.
“Some of the best players in the class will be serving missions, which means that you won’t get to see them for maybe 2-3 years down the road,” Hill said. “There are holes to fill, but I really like the team that we have and how this recruiting class fits in with them.”