The old saying goes: if you’re good enough, college coaches will find you, no matter what school or level you’re playing at. In the case of Demetrius Hill, that motto held true.
Hill attended Miami Springs High School, a relatively big 5A school with over 1,450 students. But on the football field, just 22 players signed up to play this past season.
With a shorthanded squad, Hill had to play on both sides of the ball, starting as a cornerback and quarterback, while getting looks at wide receiver. And with COVID-19 in the way, he was far from an ideal situation that may have cost him some looks from major universities.
Following a junior season in which he garnered two interceptions and 14 pass deflections, Hill received his first scholarship offer from the University of Florida. With an SEC school in the mix, his recruitment gained momentum, being in frequent contact with Louisville, Colorado and Arizona, amongst other Power 5 schools.
Hill, who’s ranked as a three-star by 247Sports, viewed Florida as the favorite early in his recruiting, being that they were the first to offer him and following numerous campus visits. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the NCAA halted all campus visits and in-person evaluations, and things changed for Hill.
The recruiting dead period proved to be a disservice for class of 2021 recruits across the country, especially for those at small schools, as evaluation through recruiting events and face-to-face interactions with college coaches no longer existed.
Over the pandemic filled spring and summer, Hill played the waiting game with many schools. And with coaches unable to assess recruits in-person, game film became the most vital part of the recruiting search. However, at a school with limited weapons, opposing teams have the luxury of throwing the ball away from Hill’s side of the field.
“It used to frustrate me, but I’m used to it by now,” Hill, who gave up zero catches as a junior, told the Miami Herald.
Still, one team made sure to do their homework and invested in the 6-foot-2, 190-pound cornerback: FIU.
“In April, they got on a Zoom call with me and began to build the relationship,” Hill told 305 Sports. “Like a month later they offered me a scholarship and the relationship just grew from there.”
Hill was initially contacted by recently named offensive coordinator Tim Harris Jr, and built a connection with former CB coach Bryn Renner — now the QB coach — and former co-defensive coordinator Jerod Kruse.
Hill received his official offer from FIU in May, and committed before the start of his senior season in July. He was one of eight South Florida native’s to stay local. And for Hill, that’s what it’s all about.
“Why put on for somebody else’s city when you can put on for your own,” Hill said. “At the hometown, my family is able to come to my games and it’s a good environment. I can’t wait to put on for my city.”
Hill, who sported an FIU beanie during the interview, disregarded the Panthers’ struggles last season and emphasized that he’s coming to make an instant impact.
“Next year, I’m going to be the best cornerback in Conference-USA and I stand on that,” Hill, who plans on enrolling in the summer, said.
Hill will need to impress over the offseason in order to work his way up the cornerback depth chart as a freshman on a secondary that gave up just 187.20 passing yards per game last season. But given his athletic ability and imposing frame, early playing time is a realistic possibility.
“He’s big, he’s physical,” FIU head coach Butch Davis said. “You see this young man and you see him play safety, you see him play corner, you see him play each side as a nickel guy. You know that he’s going to have a great opportunity to make an impact.
“Him being able to play the ball high at the point of attack is very athletic on his part.”
One thing that’s clear is that Hill is excited to call FIU home.
“That’s home,” he said. “I’m going to represent.”