The thought of three-year starting defensive end Zi’yon Hill of Catholic-New Iberia playing tight end and catching passes his senior season has a nice ring to it.
“I’m pretty excited,” Hill said. “Coach (Brent Indest) has been trying to get me the ball. I caught a pass in the spring game last year. This year, I’m expected to get the ball, no juking and run people over.”
Not exactly the kind of news any of Catholic-New Iberia’s opponents look forward to — having to devise a way to bring down the 6-foot-1½, 272-pound Hill in the open field.
“He has the best hands on the team,” Indest said. “I’ve known since middle school he had good hands with him running around in the gym. He has great hand-eye coordination.”
While he’s excited about the prospect of flourishing at a new position, Hill is intently focused on honing his skills on the defensive line, where he’s started for three years and has caught the attention of college recruiters.
Hill’s put his hands to good use on that side of the ball, shedding blockers to pursue quarterbacks and running backs. Because of his quickness and instincts, it’s common to see Hill chase down the recipient of a screen pass.
“There are things that are tough to teach that he picks up on his own,” Indest said. “We look for instinctive kids. He really has a good feel for where the ball’s going.”
Hill, who is 14 pounds lighter than his junior year, has his sights set on a bigger senior season, a year after registering 83 total tackles with 12 stops for losses and six sacks. He also recorded eight quarterback hurries, caused three fumbles and recovered a pair of fumbles.
“My goal is to reach 100 tackles and get over 10 sacks,” said Hill, a first-team All-District 5-2A selection and honorable mention Class 2A All-State choice a year ago. “I’ve looked at film to see my first step, my pass rush and whether I was too high. Then, after workouts, I got in the chute and worked on staying low. I’ve worked the bags on my first step off the ball.”
Those have been among the areas of concentration for Hill that spilled over from the spring into the summer, in which Catholic-New Iberia works out four days a week.
Hill has already hit the college camp circuit at Louisiana-Lafayette with additional planned stops this week at Tulane, where Texas A&M will also host. There are also scheduled trips to Arkansas State’s satellite camp in Lafayette and Ole Miss.
Recruiting will occupy more of Hill’s time after the season, but the idea of playing college football has gained greater clarity since his first scholarship offer from Tulane last October.
“When they find out he’s only 16, that’s a big thing for him,” Indest said of Hill. “He blew up this spring with coaches coming in and out.”
College coaches were commonplace during the team’s spring drills where Hill, the state’s No. 80 prospect by 247 Sports, added to his offer list of 12 schools with post-spring overtures from SMU, Army and Kansas, to go along with other Division I schools such as Louisiana-Monroe and Texas-San Antonio.
“It was a little surprising at first because it’s the first time coaches have come out to see me,” Hill said. “I had the mindset to try and impress them. I’ve always tried to give 100 percent in practice, but when they were there, I tried to give 110 percent. I really wanted to show my talent.”