UNIVERSITY PARK — Suddenly the moment Jordan Hill has worked nearly his entire life for is upon him.
But on the eve of the NFL Draft, Hill is content, calm, ready for whatever the weekend may hold for him, his family and his future.
“I expect for it to be an exciting time for me,” Hill said. “No matter where I get picked, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. Not many people can say that they’ve been able to do all of this. And you’ve got to take it all in.”
Hill is one of a handful of former Penn State players who are hoping to hear their names called at some point over the coming days when NFL teams will stock their rosters with some of college football’s most sought after talent. Linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, who also attended February’s NFL Scouting Combine with Hill, are also expected to be selected at some point this week. Other former Nittany Lions such as center Matt Stankiewitch, who was also at the Combine, quarterback Matt McGloin, cornerback Stephon Morris, running back Michael Zordich and offensive tackle Mike Farrell will also hope to be selected.
Some will have to wait until after the draft to sign free agent deals as undrafted players. Hill is hoping he’s done enough to be selected in one of the initial rounds.
His standout performances at Penn State where he racked up 171 tackles, 19 1/2 for losses, 9 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles over four years were followed by a nearly five-month period of non-stop workouts. Hill, who played at just under 300 pounds last season, has made it a focus to add bulk over the last few weeks. He’s worked out at the football team’s facility on campus while finishing his degree in recreation, parks and tourism management. He’s on pace to graduate next weekend.
Now, Hill said he’s checking in at a steady 302 pounds with 305 as his ultimate goal.
“I’ve basically just been trying to maintain,” Hill said. “I’m not totally out of shape but I feel like I’m out of shape a little bit. Just because you’re not doing football every day. But I feel like I’m in good enough shape to go into a minicamp and have a successful one.”
As to which city he finds himself in when rookie minicamps begin in May, Hill is unsure where he’ll end up.
While he’s not been mentioned as a top round pick by any analysts who have mocked out the early rounds, Hill said he’s been told he could be selected anywhere from the second to the fourth rounds. He’s already visited a number of teams in person, including the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers.
In Texas, Hill met owner Jerry Jones while getting a chance to tour the Cowboys’ facilities. It hit him then that he could be spending a good portion of his future in a professional football environment.
“I was just taking it all in, being in an NFL facility,” Hill said. “It’s good being there around all the people, players and stuff like that and just seeing people and getting to know people. It was just a real cool experience.”
Soon, that experience could become his lifestyle. The Panthers have the 44th pick in the second round while the Cowboys posses the 47th selection. Chicago and Atlanta, both teams have big needs along the defensive line, have the 50th and 60th picks in the second round, respectively.
Hill’s former teammates are hoping for similar fortunes, too.
Hodges, a linebacker noted for his strong coverage abilities, could also go in the middle rounds while Mauti, who was limited in Combine and Penn State Pro Day workouts as he recovers from a third torn ACL, could end up being selected in the mid to late rounds.
The last time all of the Draft hopefuls were together was Saturday on the sideline of the Blue-White Game. Hill said he was thankful of the time they got to spend together, especially considering they could be butting heads sooner rather than later as opposing members of NFL franchises.
“They’re looking great,” Hill said of Mauti and Hodges. “It was good just being able to see those guys right before the draft.”