Hometown running back Michael Hill is thriving both on and off the field for the Griffons.
“Michael is a good, quiet leader by example,” coach Jerry Partridge said. “He does what’s right, and I think he is one of the most respected kids on the team.”
Hill was born and raised in St. Joseph and started playing football at the young age of eight.
“I used to always get in fights when I was little, so my mom said I needed to get into something, so she got me into football,” Hill said.
Hill starred at Central High School in St. Joseph as a three-year-starter and a two-time All-District back. Although Hill always knew about Missouri Western, he was unsure where he would play after high school.
“At first, it’s like you want to get away from home,” Hill said. “But after my first year and getting to know everybody here, I just felt good and knew that this was a good place. I like playing here; it’s my home and I just feel free here. ”
Hill takes on the role of RA in the dorms where he is in charge of the suites and works at the desk.
“I wanted to get involved more and be more than just a football player,” Hill said. “Just in case football ends for me I want to get my professional skills up and have something to put on my resume.”
On the gridiron, Hill’s resume as a Griffon is already impressive. As a freshman, he accumulated 792 yards on 180 carries, averaging 4.4 yards-per-carry and scored eight touchdowns. His success continued during his sophomore season as he racked up 704 yards on the ground and five touchdowns.
“He is a really good player and a very explosive athlete,” Partridge said. “A very strong, powerful, complete player. He’s a good receiver, a good blocker and a good runner.”
In Hill’s first two years he was forced to split carries with other upperclassmen, but this season, as a junior, the starting running back position is all his, and he is taking advantage.
“The first thing I’m thinking is you have to score and get no negative rushes,” Hill said. “Play every down like it’s your last.”
Averaging a remarkable 4.9 yards-per-carry with five touchdowns, Hill has 562 rushing yards and 114 receiving yards on the season, including three touchdowns in the first half of last week’s game against Lincoln.
“I always prepared like I was the starter,” said Hill. “It’s cool to be starting but at the same time I know these other guys can do close to what I can do. We are all different types of running backs.”
Hill is one of five Griffons who are from St. Joseph and currently hold down starting positions on the team.
“We realize it’s important that the community supports us and we certainly want to support them back,” Partridge said. “Hill really, surprisingly, didn’t get recruited very hard by other schools, which is shocking, but I’m glad he didn’t.”