Catching Up with Justin Hilliard

By 11W Staff on July 9, 2013 at 4:00p

This week Eleven Warriors is going to take a look at another top prospect in the 2015 recruiting class who the Buckeyes have serious interest in joining the 2015 class which should be a very big one as scholarship restrictions are set to expire after this year.

Hilliard might be Ohio's best in 2015


Last week we caught up with Dowell twins of Lakewood (OH) St. Edward. This week we are going to take a look at Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier linebacker Justin Hilliard who has been ranked as Ohio's top junior by 24/7 Sports, the only recruiting website with 2015 rankings out to this date.

The 6-2/225 linebacker has just begun taking serious look at prospective colleges this summer and was able to take in a lot of different college campuses.

"I'm just trying to get as many visits in as possible in order to evaluate the offers I've received," he said. "I think I'm done with camping and am ready to take a closer look at schools who have offered me."

Hilliard got the chance to visit and camp at many top schools across the Midwest this summer.

"I went to Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, and Notre Dame," he continued. "I thought all of the visits and camps went really well."

The Ohio State camp went particularly well as he performed well enough to earn a scholarship offer from Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff, which is one of the biggest offers he hold to this date.

"I went up to Ohio State to camp. I didn't really get to see the campus while I was in Columbus," he told Eleven Warriors. "The camp went really well, they offered me afterwards."

He had the chance to work with Mike Vrabel and Urban Meyer during the camp and he was able to talk to both of them privately while he was at the camp.

"Coach Vrabel told me I was performing real well. He said I could be a great player for the Ohio State defense if I decide to go there," he continued. "Coach Meyer was the one who offered me. He told me I was good enough to play for Ohio State and that he really wants me to be a part of this class."



As you can imagine, receiving an offer from a top in-state school, which in this case is Ohio State, means a lot to a recruit. 

"It really means a lot," he said. "They've always been one of the top school in the country and will contend for championships every year."

The junior linebacker talks to the Ohio State coaching staff on the phone pretty frequently as he tries to develop solid relationships with the men that could coach him at the college level if he decides to stay in-state.

"We talk pretty often. I talk to Coach Meyer once a week," he continued. "I also talk to Coach Coombs and Coach Vrabel pretty often."

While Hilliard and the Buckeye coaches are still in the process of developing a solid relationship, they are definitely getting to know each other pretty well, which could bode well for the Scarlet & Gray when his recruitment comes to a close.

Hilliard is one of Ohio State's top targets 

"When we talk, we don't just talk about football," he continued. "We talk about a lot of things ranging from football to just life itself."

Another school that caught Hilliard's eye was Notre Dame. He visited South Bend last month and came away impressed with what Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish had to offer.

"It went really good. I met a lot of good guys on the visit," he said. "I got to see the whole campus, the facilities and everything. I also got to spend some time with the coaches."

Hilliard also went up to check out the top two schools in his home state of Michigan, where he lived until he moved to Ohio when he was seven years old.

"Michigan was really only a camp. I didn't really get to see their campus," he told Eleven Warriors. "I'm going back up there later this month for the BBQ which I think is on July 21st."

"Michigan State was more of a visit," he said. "It went really well. I got to see the campus and talk to the coaches."

The St. Xavier star learned a lot at all of the football camps he has attended to this point.

"I learned a lot coverage wise," he said. "I got a lot better at sticking with wide receivers. I also had the chance to put in some work with the cornerbacks."

While Hilliard has lived in Ohio for the vast majority of his football career, he didn't grow up rooting for the Buckeyes, in fact, he didn't root for any team growing up.

"I was born in Michigan and moved to Ohio when I was seven, so I never really rooted for any particular team growing up."

It's still very early in the process for the standout linebacker thus he hasn't narrowed his list of prospective schools just yet.

"I don't really have any favorites right now, there are a bunch of different schools in the running," he continued. "I'll probably trim my list during my football season."

While it still is very early in the process, Hilliard has an idea of when he would like to make his college decision.

"Sometime after my football season," he said. "I'll definitely be committed somewhere by this time next year."

There are also multiple factors that go into his decision when he sits down with those close to him after his football season to move towards a decision.

"I just have to fit in and feel comfortable with the school," he continued. "Academics and ability to win a championship will also be important factors in my decision."

Hilliard is planning on visiting Texas A&M and a couple of other schools during the fall. He will also likely be up to Columbus to take in a Buckeye game or two.



GV9's picture

Great article, really enjoyed it.   Thanks. 

JYBUCKEYE's picture

Hilliard starts his BBQ tour in TTUN, then its off to Kansas, and finishes up in Arkansas.

FROMTHE18's picture

Cincinnati kid...will be interesting to say the least.

pjtobin's picture

He looks like a stud in his pictures. Come on up, young man. Us buckeyes would gladly have you here!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

mh277907's picture

I saw that Jeremy predicted that he ends up at ND which would be a disappointment. I really don't understand that trend. Even all of my buddies from Cincy hate on OSU and they can never really give me a reason why. Hopefully this staff can change some opinions down there including Mr. Hilliard's.


spqr2008's picture

A good friend of mine went to St. X, and if he'd not gotten a full ride from U. Dayton, he would've gone to ND.  There's a lot of pressure from the teachers, admins, counselors, and parents to go to ND or BC, or to another smaller Jesuit institution for higher ed (considering that helps keep St. X's bills paid, it makes sense).

irishfury's picture

I was born in Hamilton county (Cincy) raised by my grandmother who turned me into huge Ohio State fan.  Then I moved to Michigan when I was 13.  This is back in 92-93.  I remember everyone from Cincy loving OSU.  

OSU2002Grad's picture

He'd look great in scarlet and gray, but hard to see him choosing us over ND or Michigan.

buckeye92's picture

I grew up in Cincinnati, went to high school in gut says ND most likely to land him followed by Michigan or SEC school.  Never understood why Cincinnati seems to ignore tOSU.  Would be nice to see the Cincinnati area change its attitude.....

northcampus's picture

It's more like OSU ignores Cincinnati.  This goes much farther than random star recruit with lack of interest in OSU.  
OSU has not done a very good job of creating and/or maintaining a presence in Cincinnati.  Contact any of the well-known sports media figures in Cincinnati and ask them how difficult it has been to work with OSU in the past because of the inflexibility from OSU's sports info department.  The rights to carry OSU games on radio are greater than other 'local' schools as well.  If you don't have the media on your side (and OSU does not in Cincinnati), you're not going to get much free publicity from these folks.  When Tressel was at OSU, the guys on 1530am tried to get him on the air numerous times to discuss the Buckeyes and how many times was an interview granted in the time Tressel was at OSU? Brian Kelly and the local coaches couldn't get on the air fast enough to talk about their teams.  And now, people are wondering why Notre Dame is still beating OSU for Cincy recruits when ND hasn't had a decent team (minus 2012) in almost 10 years.
Academically, OSU doesn't make much of an effort to create a desire within Cincinnati for prospective students to want to attend OSU.  I've seen/heard advertisements in Cincinnati in the last 12 months for Notre Dame, Michigan, Kentucky, Miami, NKU, UC, and Xavier.  Who is missing from that list?  If Michigan is pursuing perspective students in Cincinnati, why isn't OSU?  The answer is because OSU doesn't think they need to (I just attended a workshop where an admissions rep from OSU presented and to be quite honest with you people, he was very proud that students seek out OSU instead of OSU seeking out students).  Which is fine.  OSU's reputation doesn't create a need to go out and sell itself in most situations.
However, when the time comes for OSU to expect loyalty from a region that has traditionally not followed the school with the same passion as other major metro areas of the state, fans immediately throw out barbs and insults at the area (Cincinnati) instead of rationally reviewing the facts of the matter.  OSU doesn't have a built-in advantage in Cincinnati as it does in other parts of Ohio because Cincinnati kids grow up without a serious OSU presence in their lives (or the lives of the people they admire/look up to).  The amount of large corporations bring in many more out of town employees than other larger cities in Ohio, which creates even more diversity within rooting interests.
OSU is just going to have to work a little harder in Cincinnati than in other areas of Ohio.  Cincinnati kids have more options than kids from other areas of Ohio and while some kids (Kyle Rudolph, Spencer Ware, etc.) were not coming to OSU no matter who was the coach or how good OSU's relationship is/was with Cincinnati), many more kids may consider OSU more strongly if the school did a better job of laying the groundwork a littler earlier than offering a kid after he's already halfway through high school.
Go Bucks.

OSU2002Grad's picture

Cincinnati views itself as different from the rest of the state. And they do it with pride as if they're ashamed of the rest of us.

denner's picture

Cincinnati =Kentucky. 

cinserious's picture

Here we go again with the Cincinnati-bashing. Give it a rest people, Justin Hilliard hasn't even narrowed his list down and you guys are already counting him out of the running for Ohio State. You people don't understand the Catholic-school mentality that is ever present within I-275. The Moellers/Elders/ and St. Xs brainwash their best atheletes to move on to ND or BC. PERIOD. Add in the influence Brian Kelly brings to the table plus the fact that Jim Tressel and his staff have completely ignored Southwest Ohio for over ten years and you can see why these kids feel no allegiance toward OSU and are just as likely to go to ND, TTUN, or an SEC program, etc.
That being said, we have the advantage of having URBAN FREAKING MEYER as our head coach!
Meyer, Coombs, Warinner, and Hinton have the power and the will to turn the tide of Cincinnati recruits in OSU's favor.  These four coaches have lots of Cincy ties and influence and determination to get the job done. Give it another year or two for the kids down there to see what Urban is building 100 mi. to the north and all the Cincy-bashing will be history. URBZ made targeting Southwest Ohio recruits a priority when he came to Ohio State, do you doubt he will get the job done?

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Urban Nation Army's picture

Building and maintaining relationships is the key with these kids. See: Vonn Bell. Sounds pretty good for the Buckeyes right now with Hilliard.

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

GoBlueBlood's picture

There's not much important info I can share about Michigan and Hilliard at this time, but from a few updates I've seen over the past month, he's definitely high on us. One of our insiders expect us to make a big move when he visits for the BBQ. I get the feeling ND is the team to beat here though. I would think Michigan and OSU have an equal shot at this point, he doesn't seem to have an affinity to one or the other. 

Eddie-Eddie's picture

Great article Miles!

unholy bucknut's picture

Brian Kelly's ties to Cincy don't help us at all with this one. OSU will step it up in southern ohio in the coming years i hope

harleymanjax's picture

Actually most people in Cincinnati hate Brian Kelly now, so Urban's ties to Cincy are better!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

pjtobin's picture

Thanks for the info. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

MN Buckeye's picture

I am hoping that Kerry Coombs can cover Cincy like a blanket, as he would teach his players to cover receivers.

cinserious's picture

2013: mike Michell
2014: Raekwon McMillan
2015: justin Hilliard

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Poison nuts's picture

Lot of people here seem to think OSU is out of this one...why? Because he enjoyed his Notre Dame visit? Because he said he didn't have a favorite school growing up?  He's from Cincy? Sounded to me like OSU has a great shot with him & that they are establishing a strong relationship right now. I'm not very worried about someone's 2015 crystal ball predictions when there's still 6 months until the 2014 class finishes.
I doubt this one is over by a long shot, & I'm with Cinserious above - it'd be cool if folks stop the Cincy bashing. It's a great Ohio city, just like Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton, etc..OSU has made it a priority to get kids from there & I believe they will. So far it's been working out well.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.