Like he developed when he came to Hillcrest his junior year, Jonah Hill is hoping he’ll do the same at Arkansas State this fall.
The Hornets senior signed with the Sun Belt Conference school on Wednesday.
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"This was the last thing I ever expected," said Hill, who began his high school career in Marshfield playing JV as a freshman.
A California kid, Hill switched to tight end his junior year when he moved to Hillcrest.
"I knew it was going to be different," Hill said. "I knew things were going to change from my perspective. I went into the weight room and hit it hard every day."
Hill, a second team all-state tight end as a junior, played quarterback for the Hornets last fall. He’ll move to an H-back role in college.
Hill was initially recruited by Gus Malzahn, who is now the coach at Auburn after spending just one year at A-State.
The Red Wolves hired Bryan Harsin as their new coach on Dec. 12. Hill said he initially had some skepticism about Arkansas State after the coaching change, but stuck with his commitment.
"I know at Arkansas State that I can become the best athlete I can be," Hill said.
Hill said that he had a variety of Division II and Football Championship Subdivision scholarship offers, but Arkansas State was the first Football Bowl Subdivision school to offer him. He added that his very first scholarship offer, at any level, came from Missouri State.
Also signing for the Hornets on Wednesday was lineman Levi Miles (Missouri Valley College), who played just one year of high school football. Miles grew up on the southside of Springfield in the Kickapoo district, moved to Pleasant Hope briefly, then came to Hillcrest.
"I heard so much about Hillcrest and the program and coaching staff that they've got," Miles said. "It was my last year and I wanted to give it a shot just to be able to play. Whether I got a college scholarship or not, I was thrilled to be able to get out on the field with the guys and play."
Miles played left tackle for the Hornets, due in part to a shortage of offensive linemen during practice one day. He’ll move to defensive end for Missouri Valley.
“I liked playing offensive line,” Miles said. “The (Hillcrest) coaches said I had the protectiveness of an O-lineman and the speed of a defensive lineman.”