Hill proves doubters wrong with stellar play

From the very beginning, Quadtrine Hill wanted to be a Miami Hurricane, but people in his hometown of Sunrise, Fla. constantly told him to quit dreaming and focus on schools where he could earn playing time.

Despite the pessimism from his peers, Hill never wavered in his desire to earn a football scholarship at UM.

“I’ve been a Miami Hurricanes fan since I was in first grade,” Hill said. “Coming into high school, my goal was to play for the Hurricanes. I told people that at the beginning and they thought that maybe I could do it. As time went on, everybody started doubting me, saying that Miami had too many great running backs.”

When Hill earned national attention as a junior at Piper High School, some of the doubters began to come around. It wasn’t until his senior season, however, that his dream of playing football for the Hurricanes became a reality. After rushing for 1,356 yards and 20 touchdowns, Hill impressed the Hurricane scouts enough to earn a scholarship.

Hill red shirted in 2001, playing for the scout team in a season where the ‘Canes would win their first national title since 1991. As a red shirt, he couldn’t play a down for the team, but he still felt like an important piece of the puzzle.

“The highlight of my career definitely was when we won the Rose Bowl, even though I wasn’t playing,” Hill said. “It felt great to be on the team and help the team do so much. I had a big role to play on the scout team as a running back week in and week out.”

An overload of tailbacks on the depth chart forced Hill to move to fullback, a position he had never played at any point in his career. He started every game of the 2002 season, catching 15 passes for 192 yards.

Hill said that he didn’t feel like he was being thrown into the fire as a red-shirt freshman, despite having to block for Willis McGahee in critical games.

“I was expecting to play that early, so it wasn’t like I was caught off guard that I was in there. I wanted to be in there,” Hill said.

The transition from tailback to fullback was difficult, and Hill has developed a great deal of respect for the position.

“Fullback might be one of the hardest positions on the field,” Hill said. “If you ask college coaches, they’ll tell you how difficult fullback is. You have a lot of responsibilities…like reading the blocks, reading the holes, and knowing where you’re going. Then, you add the responsibilities of a lineman, blocking somebody downfield.”

This season, Hill has been battling injuries that have forced him to miss considerable amounts of time in certain games. He dislocated his shoulder during the Florida victory, rolled his ankle against Boston College, and aggravated the ankle injury a week later against West Virginia.

Hill feels that the injuries have had more of an effect during the week than in game situations, with the missed practice time hurting his overall preparation.

“It has been harder in practices than it has been in games,” he said. “In practice, a lot of things can bother you while you’re trying to get mentally ready for a team. But when it comes to game time, the adrenaline starts pumping and it doesn’t really bother you until something actually happens to aggravate it again.”

After losing in the Fiesta Bowl last season, Hill is once again a key component to a Hurricanes team that is competing for a title. According to Hill, the success of this year’s team is about the only thing it has in common with the 2002 squad.

“Every team has its own personality,” Hill said. “You could bring back 10 out of 11 guys on offense and the team will still have a different personality because of the one guy you lost. The biggest difference between this year’s team and last year’s is that certain people are different.”

Hill foresees another championship appearance for the ‘Canes as long as they maintain their focus in the critical stretch of games against Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh.

“We have to keep playing like Miami,” Hill said. “We go into every game knowing that we’re going to win. We practice every day knowing that we’re going to win but we’re going to be in for a fight. We don’t take anybody lightly.”