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Utah State football: Joe Hill poised for significant role at running back

Published August 9, 2012 4:41 pm

USU notes • Soph won't start, but will be a big contributor.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • Through two seasons at Utah State, seven carries and 24 yards defining his career as an Aggie, Joe Hill finally seems ready to make an impact for coach Gary Andersen.

He won't start as a redshirt sophomore. That distinction goes to Kerwynn Williams, another who has patiently waited his turn for a bigger role. However, Andersen is confident that Hill will be his No. 2 running back when the season starts in three weeks against Southern Utah.

Pass protection used to be a big issue. It isn't anymore. His lack of experience led to a redshirt year in 2010. But Hill's long been on the minds of his offensive coaches, as his speed and running ability have impressed over time, even when he was on the scout team.

Now, Hill seems poised for his biggest season in Logan.

"We've been impressed with the way he's carried himself during camp," Andersen said. "He's busted his tail and he's played well. It's still not set in stone, but if I had to say right now, Joe would clearly be the second guy."

That's not insignificant at all. The second guy in 2011, Michael Smith, was drafted in the seventh round in April by Tampa Bay. And Hill has, so far, had to fight off stiff challenges from the likes of Robert Marshall and Joey DeMartino.

Point being, it looks like Hill will receive plenty of work in the next few months. He was impressive in spring ball, and has picked up on that in the last week.

"I tried to sit back and learn all that I could," Hill said. "I played behind some really good backs, and I just want to go out and help my team in any way possible."

The Keeton watch

Sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton practiced on Thursday, but didn't participate in any of the live scrimmaging with his left knee (tendinitis) still on the mend. Keeton will practice on Friday, and is expected to be in action for Saturday's scrimmage.

A return

BJ Larsen (mono), practiced for the first time on Thursday. He went in half pads, as he needs to go through the NCAA mandated acclimation period before donning full pads. Larsen will be counted on to add depth to the defensive line.

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tonyaggieville