Five-Star Linebacker Justin Hilliard Reflects on Recruitment

By Jeremy Birmingham on June 25, 2014 at 2:53p
96 Comments

Justin Hilliard is no stranger to the spotlight. In fact, as the nation's top-ranked outside linebacker, the five-star Cincinnati native has been expecting it. It's what he's worked for.

"I did," he said, when asked if he ever imagined football would make him a quasi-celebrity. "I believe I've been the hardest worker in my class since I was in the ninth grade."

Now, three years later, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Hilliard heads into his senior season at Cincinnati St. Xavier High School as one of the country's most respected, recognizable and sought-after recruits. His hard work has paid off, and Hilliard doesn't take that for granted.

"I believe the most stressful thing about this process has been having to do all the research, having to find out what is real about each school and what is not," he said of the pressure of being a national recruit. "I mean, the stress is manageable, but some of the little things like taking 45 minutes a day to open mail, that's stressful. I actually enjoy conversing with fans, media, etc., because those are the people who help build you up. All in all, it's been great, I would not trade this opportunity for anything."

In late May, Hilliard narrowed down his list to five finalists: Alabama, Iowa, Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State. Since that time, he's made additional visits to Iowa, Notre Dame and most recently, Ohio State. He announced prior to his last visits, that a decision date would come much sooner than originally expected. Immediately following his Buckeye visit, he announced the date: July 2nd. 

"There's no significance to that date," he said. I just wanted to commit at the right time and I felt that was it. I'm glad the process is ending because it's time for me to be a recruiter. I'm excited to go out and get a class together that will hopefully be a top-three class nationally. I've been thinking about that since I got my first offer. I want to win."

“I'm glad the process is ending because it's time for me to be a recruiter.”

Many of the country's top players, including Minnesota defensive lineman Jashon Cornell, the nation's top-running back Damien Harris and Virginia offensive lineman Matt Burrell have all stated that Hilliard is someone they'd love to play alongside. That's not necessarily by design, according to Ohio's top-rated linebacker, but it's not a coincidence either.

"Where ever I end up I believe we'll have the number one class in the country," he said of his developing friendships around the country. "It's all about building relationships because those guys will be my future teammates and future classmates."

During his most recent visit to Ohio State, Hilliard spent time with Arizona standout Christian Kirk. The two hadn't met before, but the Queen City superstar said they got along well.

"(Christian) and I talked a little football," Hilliard said of the Scottsdale wideout. "We got a lot of time to build a relationship and get to know each other. (That was the one thing that stood) this weekend (at Ohio State and Notre Dame): hanging out with the players. When it comes down to it, those are the guys you're going to be surrounded with when you get to college. It was also really good to attend the business school meetings, learning what I could with each degree."

Hilliard also spent more time with Urban Meyer.

"Coach Meyer is very involved in my recruitment," he said of the Ohio State head coach. "We talk almost every day. He's very personal outside of football and all business when he's involved in the game. It still makes me laugh that I have the ability to pick up the phone and call Coach Meyer, Coach Saban, Coach Ferentz, Coach Kelly, or Coach Hoke. My recruitment has come with plenty of benefits, it's been an enormous blessing."

Now, a week away from a decision, Hilliard says the toughest part is just separating great school from great school.

"This decision is very hard," Hilliard said. "Every school I'm looking at has opportunities for great education and great football. Ultimately, it will come down to where I am most comfortable, because it's where I'll be for three-to-four years."

96 Comments

Comments

@OSUDefender's picture

I'm excited to go out and get a class together that will hopefully be a top-three class nationally. 

Sorry, Iowa.

+59 HS
Jason Priestas's picture

Yeah, pretty much.

MN Buckeye's picture

And sorry, MI, as well.

+30 HS
b_pbucksfans's picture

Beetface will not pull a top 3 class either.

+15 HS
Spirit's picture

Are you kidding? Beet face? It's a SIN that I can't up vote you. THAT was the high point of my day!

Spirit

+5 HS
Bloombergl's picture

The tone of this comment by Justin also drops a hint that it's likely not 'bama.  Implies that he's signing up to be a recruiter to help land that top notch class.  I think we'd all agree that Saban recruits ok on his own, for better or worse.  Yes, Urb's awesome too, btw.  tOSU, baby!!!

edit:  "I'm excited to go out and get a class together that will hopefully be a top-three class nationally."

 

+2 HS
buckeyeEddie27's picture

"Urban Meyer is directly involved with my recruitment" (insert crazy Jack Nicholson Nodding gif)

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

+4 HS
bethmowins's picture

here you are:

 

 

+38 HS
buckeyeEddie27's picture

That was nice of you but you really need to stop calling games.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

+9 HS
ScoobyKnows's picture

That Beth Mowins avatar creeps me out every single time I see it.

+2 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

you can almost hear the avatar

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

TossTrap's picture

Okay, was the choice between this and Pam Ward?

First and goal at the five and Arch is getting the ball.

+1 HS
BuckeyeinToledo's picture
Edit: it appears I was too slow with my phone...

 

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

-Woody Hayes

GoCAVSnBUCKS2's picture

Justin stated that he wanted Jashon, Damien and Matthew to come along with him, and seeing that they have little to no interest in ND other than maybe Cornell gets me very excited for this class. What a huge get all these players would be, first step is Hilliard picking the Buckeyes.

+6 HS
scottyp_330's picture

Could really be Christmas in July!

+2 HS
shaggybuckeye's picture

Is it just me or do both Hoke and Kelly look perpetually confused? The only time I've seen Hoke look like he actually understood what to do was at the buffet line...

+1 HS
KevinJ's picture

I'm going to think positive and get warmed up for the Gray Box

 

+38 HS
WC Buckeye's picture

That. Is. Awesome.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

+3 HS
cinserious's picture

Wednesday, July 2nd. Prepare for an internet meltdown of epic proportions!

FECK YEAH!

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

+1 HS
BierStube's picture

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+3 HS
305Buck's picture

As I mentioned before, ND can boast about academics all they want, but as Justin said each school has good academics. This will come down to where he feels most comfortable, and the fact that he bonded better with Ohio State players, and targets will make him a Buckeye.

+4 HS
Ajake15's picture

When do we tell him #47 isn't available?

Buster Tillman was underrated

BierStube's picture

This basically sums up Iowa and Hilliard at this point ...

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+8 HS
BuckeyeinToledo's picture

 

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

-Woody Hayes

+4 HS
305Buck's picture

Another note on Justin Hilliard's recruitment, a poster over on Rivals claims to be close with Justin's Granddad and he says Justin will be a Buckeye. While it's no secret that Justin's dad likes Notre Dame, the two have actually built a stronger relationship with Meyer than they have with Kelly.

+17 HS
BierStube's picture

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+6 HS
Tater_Schroeder's picture

Every time I read a piece on this kid, I feel more and more like he would not only be a great player on the field, but a leader in the locker room. Here's to hoping he stays home and becomes a Buckeye!

How Firm Thy Friendship

+15 HS
2morrow's picture

Couldn't agree more TATER

+3 HS
Buck Commander's picture

Rule out Alabama they are already Number 1 For now........... I smell a BOOM BABY!

Every time I set my DVR to record Biggest Loser......It always records Wolverine Football Games!

+1 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

Yes - reading between the lines, Alabama is out, for your reason stated, Buck.  I would also rule out Iowa and Michigan, not sure their business schools are great and they certainly cannot become a top three class.  That leaves ND and TOSU, and I just HAVE TO THINK that Meyer is a MUCH better recruiter than Kelly.

Here's to hoping!!  By the way, Hilliard sounds like a model young man.  I would LOVE to see him at our school.

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

MN Buckeye's picture

Well, one more week.

MikeTheBuckeye's picture

Is any of this really news?

-10 HS
Hovenaut's picture

In the offseason, yes.

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I am not very smart.

+14 HS
MikeTheBuckeye's picture

It's a repeat of Hilliard last update. I could care less about the down votes I'm getting. This is redundant no matter what you say

-13 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I apologize Mike. The next time a five-star LB wants to do an interview for our readers I'll tell them no thanks unless they've got something to say you'd find interesting. 

DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

^ I've never wanted to upvote a staff's comment more...

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.

"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

+32 HS
Condor's picture

I'm still fairly new here. Mike's a Michigan troll I assume?

"Do not fear me gypsy, all I want is your tears."

 -- Borat Sagdiyev

 

+5 HS
chemicalwaste's picture

I even tried clicking the upvote arrow for him, but it didn't work.

MikeTheBuckeye's picture

I apologize for what I previously said due to Birm's comment. So I suppose you could say I did get Birm'd. And I do enjoy 11W works, don't get me wrong. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

+9 HS
Hovenaut's picture

No worries Mike.

Recruiting has been/is, ahem, a HUGE subject of discussion around here. Comes with the territory of being an Ohio State fan.

Comments are always welcome, even in differing opinions - when offered in a respectful and courteous manner. It's also important to consider who may actually be reading those comments...

Thanks for jumping back in, see you out there.

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I am not very smart.

+4 HS
rjsmitty's picture

Awe Mike, that just happened. BOOM!

clogan1032's picture

glad we got that cleared up!  Why do we have only 3 star recruits, why do we interview 5 star recruits?  My porridge is too cold. My porridge is too hot. Whhhaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!

+3 HS
Buck Commander's picture

My thoughts exactly Birm!

Every time I set my DVR to record Biggest Loser......It always records Wolverine Football Games!

RBuck's picture

Birm me up Scotty.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

+1 HS
Killer nuts's picture

You've been Birm'd

+18 HS
gumtape's picture

Getting Birm'd is ok. I just never want to get Ramzy'd.

http://www.elevenwarriors.com/college-football-recruiting/2014/06/36419/the-11w-book-of-etiquette-chapter-1-following-recruiting-without-being-an-asshole

Though Skid handled it about as well as anyone. If that happened to me I would be changing my handle, Icon, and crying in my momma's lap after I made boom-boom in my shorts.

High and tight boo boo

+18 HS
scottyp_330's picture

Simply Brilliant article. Go Buckeye's!!!! LOL I'm kidding Go Bucks!

buckeyedude's picture

I just never want to get Ramzy'd

If you follow Ramzy's Rules of Engagement(don't be assholey), you'll be fine.

 

 

+1 HS
MikeTheBuckeye's picture
+1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Wanted to respond...in kind..., looks like someone else Birm'd me to it.

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I am not very smart.

+4 HS
labuck's picture

Then don't read it.

+3 HS
jedkat's picture

There is a huge difference between the 10+ threads of "OH NOEZ Hilliard had a blue shirt on guyz, thoughts?" and an actual interview with said recruit by The 11W Director of Recruiting Coverage Bossman the week before his decision.

 

Oh, and what everyone else said. Time to go the Birm unit.

 

"I was tired of trying to work my way around the back, so I just ran him over"

~ Joey Bosa

+7 HS
BrewstersMillions's picture

If you could care less, please feel free to start caring less. Its clear to me that you either don't grasp how the saying works or your current level of care isn't at its lowest-er go, you do care.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

+8 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

Ah yes, another "I could care less..." comment. If you're going to use a cliche, at least get it correct. 

 

EDIT: Sorry Brewsters, didn't see your post. This is near the top of my annoyance meter, right up there with "to, two, and too" and "lose vs. loose".  I would add "affect vs. effect" but that may just be nitpicking. The others?  An adult should be able to get those correct. Hell my 4th grader knows the difference.

Nothing worse than reading a national board and cringing when a fellow Buckeye fan says we will never "loose" to TTUN. UGH!

Oh, and +1 for one of my favorite childhood movies. Right up there with "The Toy"!

+1 HS
chemicalwaste's picture

I've got a whole gang of those. Irregardless. A whole nother, as opposed to what, a half nother? Wung. There are more but I have to get back to work.

+1 HS
jedkat's picture

Yeah. It's so fustrating when people do that.

"I was tired of trying to work my way around the back, so I just ran him over"

~ Joey Bosa

+1 HS
avail31678's picture

What Birm said.

Also, who said every post/topic/article on here had to be NEWS?  Ross does great break downs on playcalling and strategy...none of that is NEWS per se, but it's interesting as hell.

So is hearing recruits answer questions, IMHO.  We get to know the recruits a little more, and when they (hopefully) suit up for the Scarlet and Gray, I feel like I know the kids, albeit slightly, on a personal level.  Makes me love the Buckeyes that much more.  And it's cool to get a look into the recruiting process.

Finally, what isn't news to you might be news to someone else.  I personally did not know that Hilliard had quickly set such a close date right after his final visit (which was to OSU).

If you think you already know the latest and greatest on a certain topic, don't click on the link.

Thanks for the update Birm!  I am extremely thankful to have such an inside track to information on recruits because of you and 11W who actually talk to these guys personally all the time.

 

+2 HS
gumtape's picture

 

High and tight boo boo

+8 HS
Posterchild's picture

In one week from today we will know what his decision is. I'm going to try to not get too excited about this considering what has happened in the past with top Ohio players from the Cincinnati area. If we get him I think I will explode with excitement.

+3 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

Birm, 

It has to be asked.  How you feeling about this one?  

+1 HS
gumtape's picture

Check out 247 sports crystal ball. It is the place to go for predictions. Mature discussions should be done at 11w. Bucknuts is the place for the literacy challenged or if you want to know if that recruit had chipotle or arby's for lunch. MGO is great for schadenfreude.

76% have OSU including Birm, but that may be skewed slightly because there are more OSU based recruiting experts. Check out the national guys.

http://247sports.com/PlayerInstitution/Justin-Hilliard-at-St-Xavier-50346/CurrentExpertPredictions

High and tight boo boo

+3 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

I have checked out the Crystal Ball where Birm has had Hilliard to OSU since November of '13. Since that is a while ago, I thought Birm might have a clearer idea with the announcement day so close, and that this forum might allow him to express his thoughts with more nuance -if nuance is required-- than a simple "thumbs up."

+1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I haven't ever changed my prediction on Hilliard "officially" despite the Buckeyes falling behind early for his commitment. I think he ends up a Buckeye, but I also believe he's truly torn at this time. The decision will weigh heavily on him for the next 7 days.

southbuc's picture

As heavily as Brady hoke's donut depository of an abdomen weighs on his waist band. 

Hayze's picture

Wait so you both bash the website, but then advertise it's information in the same post?

According to you I'm literacy challenged, so maybe you can explain how that makes sense.

+1 HS
gumtape's picture

There is a difference between bucknuts forums and their 247 crystal ball predictions. 247 sports as a national recruiting site with their composite rating does a good job of putting a lot of information in one place and also recognizing that there are other recruiting services and ratings.

I know Alex Gleitman was a writer here and he is well respected, but I can't say that I look to see what he puts up since Jeremy and John do it all here for free..

High and tight boo boo

+3 HS
Hayze's picture

Your claim wasn't that one is free and one isn't. It was an unnecessary shot at the people who post over there (myself included)

-1 HS
Groveport Heisman's picture

Bucknuts has pissed a few people off over the last few years with their dire need to be "first"  and caring less about being "100% correct". Their reporting a recruit/player was deceased when he actually wasnt and ruining Jayln Holmes commitment has turned a few folks  away. I  know I will never personally quote anything I've read there as legitimate info. They still have a couple powerhouse guys with solid connections working there though. To each their own I guess.

Mark my words..I don't need acceptance. I'm catching interceptions on you innocent pedestrians.

+2 HS
sharks's picture

Very well-spoken and mature. Let's rule out Bama too.

The postgame show is brought to you by... Christ, I can't find it. The hell with it...

+1 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

Absolutely LOVE this kid. Why?  glad you asked:

     *very well spoken

     *appears he will be a leader of his class

     *very professional about his recruitment

     *wants to get it done so he can recruit

Other recruits can learn a LOT on how to conduct themselves. Of course if he doesn't pick tOSU, I take it all back. Never wanted him anyway!  Just kidding. Try not to get attached to a recruit, but I REALLY want him to be a part of and the leader of this class. Would REALLY set the tone for the other top targets!  

+8 HS
Eph97's picture

If I were in his position I would go to the school with the hottest girls. I'd have to assume ND would be dead last in that category in his list of schools,

+3 HS
Jugdish's picture

Why? I heard Manti's girlfriend has a sister.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

+5 HS
Buckeye Knight's picture

Exactly the type of kid that Urban has been bringing in here at OSU.  Good student, great athlete, seems like a great guy off the field.  I hope to have him become a Buckeye for ALL of those reasons.  He seems like he would fit right in.  That group of friends of his are all high on OSU's list and seem to be high on OSU themsleves.  I really hope they all end up here.

+1 HS
Poison nuts's picture

Well, I suspect this is pretty much a ND vs OSU battle. I also suspect it's probably closer than everyone thinks, but hoping to be smiling come Wednesday.

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

+1 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

I agree with Birm, it's a tough decision but it looks like he's making his own decisions.  Sounds like a team player with leadership.  In the long run I hope he makes the right decision for himself.

Buckeye in Texas

motobuckeye's picture

Good job Birm!!  Your my #1 guy.

DenBuck's picture

Great read,..if we don't get him it will get ugly. 

Buckeye For Life

unknownmusketeer's picture

I often have wondered if any recruits have committed because of how awesome the 11W staff is to them.

+5 HS
motobuckeye's picture

I've often wondered the same thing lol!!!

+2 HS
Katzfan's picture

It certainly can't hurt! Who doesn't like to be treated with respect?! Birm and the guys do an AWESOME job... KUDOS!

+1 HS
buckeyedude's picture

I'm no recruiting guru like Birm, but everything seems to be pointing to the Buckeyes with this kid. Seems like a really nice young man.

Reel him in, Urban!

 

 

Citrus's picture

I am not going to pretend to know what a 17/18 year old I've never met is thinking. I hope he chooses tOSU. However, he comes across as having great insight and maturity. I am betting he makes the decision that is best for him. I imagine him giving Gonzo like post game interviews.

+2 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

pretty sure if you're a 17/18 yr old guy you're either hungry or horny when you are off the field.  So if these kids aren't suited up and looking excited to see you... make them a sandwich.

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+1 HS
OnceaBuckeye's picture

So if (When) he commits to the good guys and Harris, Cornell, and Burrell join him, what in your opinion would be the class ranking?  Would it move us close to top 5 or better?

And when we win the game we'll buy a keg of brew

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I know he said he speaks to Urban everyday but I believe his relationship with Raekwon McMillan will be the difference maker. 

DC-town's picture

Yep- great info, and I get people getting sick of the dog days of the summer...espn is piss poor rigt now and I think we're all getting stir crazy-

Hilliard is a must get though- with all the who's of the 'ultra-competitives' coming in the lockerroom you née these kind o guys to mold the lockerroom and Hilliard seems to really get it- works hard, sounds like his heads on straight and will instantly be the face of this recruiting class-

'Piss excellence' -RB

Jabba1977's picture

I got a gut feeling he is ours and hopefully Harris and several others as well!!

SECHATER77

cinserious's picture
 

 

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

buckguyfan1's picture

Damn, good interiew Birm.

 

+3 HS
northcampus's picture

I hope fans of any school that is recruiting Justin Hilliard appreciate just how appropriately he has handled his recruitment.  The way this young man handles himself speaks a lot for the positive role models and exceptional influences in his life (specifically his family and his St. Xavier teachers/coaches/support staff).  I didn't attend St. X, but the way their kids handle themselves in the recruiting game (regardless of how many stars they have on recruiting sites) is very impressive.

Barnsey69's picture

He oozes Buckeye...handles his business like Urban. If he comes home to the Buckeyes, we will definitely end up with a top 5 class, because he will bring dudes with him. 

Future Butkus Award winner, Team Captain, and 2-time All-American...Justin Hilliard.

GO BUCKS!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!