In order to stay competitive in an extremely tough SEC West division, Dan Mullen and his Mississippi State staff have to put in some good work on the recruiting trail.
Competing against the likes of Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss and Arkansas on a yearly basis can be a daunting task without the proper talent, but so far in the 2017 cycle, the Bulldogs have been faring quite well.
As it stands, Mississippi State’s 2017 class is ranked No. 21 nationally and No. 9 in the Big Ten. While the conference ranking may seem average, being in the Top 25 nationally is a big deal. Of course, that ranking can and will change, but it’s well worth noting that the Bulldogs are off to a hot start on the recruiting trail.
Much of that has to do with the commitment of Kylin Hill, Mullen’s top-rated 2017 commitment so far.
Hill is a four-star running back from Columbus, Miss. (Columbus) and a nationally known recruit. According to 247Sports, he’s the No. 8 running back in America as well as the No. 119 recruit in the 2017 class. He’s also the No. 4 player from the state of Mississippi, which is important to point out because the more in-state battles Mississippi State wins the better.
Ole Miss is the big dog in the Magnolia State right now, landing two of the top five in-state recruits: four-star wide receiver D.D. Bowie from Morton, Miss., and four-star outside linebacker Willie Gay from Starkville, Miss.
The commitment of Gay to Ole Miss is definitely a back-breaker for the Bulldogs, considering he’s right in their backyard, but Hill’s commitment makes that loss sting a little less. The four-star running back did have an offer from the Rebels — an in-state win for Mullen — but he also committed to Mississippi State over Memphis, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon State, Southern Mississippi, Tennessee and AUB. Alabama, Florida and LSU were also on his interest list.
Hill committed to Mississippi State in May of 2016.
“It was only right,” Hill told Paul Jones of 247Sports regarding his commitment. “(Mississippi State) was the first team to offer me and they were the team recruiting me the hardest.”
Mississippi State also had a family connection going for it in Hills’ recruitment, per Jones’ report.
“Well, my mom wants me to be close to home as possible,” said Hill. “And my family are big Mississippi State fans. She was smiling the whole time when we talked with Coach Mullen and she told him Mississippi State was No. 1 on her list. Their program has changed dramatically over the past several years and the fan base is also amazing.”
For all intents and purposes it sounds as if Hill is solid to the Bulldogs. He knows he’s a big-time prospect for them and he has to keep his mom happy, which is a bigger factor in recruiting than the average fan may think.
Though the quarterback tends to get a lot of rushing opportunities that would normally go to running backs in Mississippi State’s system, Hill brings a lot to the table and could very well change that trend. Remember, running back Josh Robinson led the team in rushing in 2014 with 1,203 yards and 11 touchdowns. That was with Dak Prescott running the show at quarterback, so the right running back can go off for a lot of yards in Starkville.
On tape, Hill appears to be the right running back.
He’s a stout 5-foot-11, 205 pounds and he brings some speed to the table. He runs a 4.64 40, which is Nike verified, so he does have that second gear that makes running backs so dangerous.
Hill is a tough runner who can break tackles. He does a good job of keeping his feet moving and running with high knees, which makes him hard to take down. He has a very effective stiff arm and runs angrily. He doesn’t take contact as a runner, but instead initiates it. That’s a trait some of the best running backs in football have, and it stuck out when Mississippi State was evaluating his tape.
Though he can be a grind-it-out runner, Hill does have home run ability as well. He has great open-field speed, hits the hole hard and has sound footwork.
He is an all-around back built to play SEC football from day one. He may want to gain a few extra pounds of muscle once he gets to Mississippi State, but the talent and raw intangibles are all there.
He could end up being one of Mississippi State’s next offensive superstars by the time all is said and done.