Tennessee signed a strong group of wide receivers in their 2020 class, bringing in four-stars Malachi Wideman, Jalin Hyatt, and Jimmy Calloway. Four-star athlete Dee Beckwith will also start out at wide receiver in the fall for the Vols. But UT will be looking to bring in a few more wideouts in their 2021 class, and one of their more recent offers at that position is very interested in the Vols.
Tommi Hill picked up an offer from Tennessee a little over a week ago, and he included the Vols in his list of top teams this week. I spoke with Hill about his interest in the Vols and what his plans are for the spring and summer.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound receiver from Edgewater High School in Orlando, Florida said that Tennessee wide receivers coach Tee Martin was the one who extended the scholarship offer to him from UT.
“He said I was a good fit for his offense,” Hill told me. “He liked my play style, said I’m good with my hands and that he would like me over there.”
As for when Hill might get up to Knoxville for a visit, he’s not sure yet. But he does want to take a trip to Tennessee’s campus.
“I might take an official up there,” Hill said. “I don’t know when, but I want to take an official.”
Right now, Hill’s only travel plan in the near future is to take a trip over to Arizona State at the end of March. Tennessee appears to be in line to get one of his five official visits, however. and Hill’s current plan is to “probably” make a commitment before the start of his senior season in the fall.
Hill not only plays wide receiver in high school, but he also plays on defense as a cornerback. Knowing Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s propensity to move offensive skill players to the secondary, I asked Hill if the Vols had spoken to him about playing on defense. Right now, Hill says UT is only looking at him as a receiver.
When I asked if he preferred playing offense or defense, the junior athlete says he has no preference.
“Coach (Martin) asked me the same thing,” Hill explained. “I told him I don’t really care what I play, I just want to be on the field.”
Though Tennessee just recently got into the picture with Hill, he’s definitely aware of the University of Tennessee and the Vols’ history when it comes to putting wide receivers into the NFL.
“I know they have top wide receivers going into the draft every year,” Hill said. “I know that for a fact.”
Tennessee hasn’t had a wide receiver drafted into the NFL since Josh Malone was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but UT is likely to have two receivers taken in this year’s NFL Draft in Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway, and Tennessee has had 10 wide receivers drafted into the NFL since the 2001 draft.
In keeping with Tennessee’s recent trend of pursuing multi-sport athletes, Hill also participates in track in high school. He’s learned lessons from his time as a runner, and he uses that to help him on the football field.
“It helps me blow past people on deep routes, brake down when I want to and change my speed,” Hill said of how track has helped him in football. “Just things like that.”
On Hill’s 247Sports profile, it lists him as having run a 40-yard dash in 4.77 seconds at a regional camp for Nike’s The Opening back in February of 2019. Hill contests that the 40-time from that camp is inaccurate, and his highlight film from his junior year would certainly back up his claim.
“When I ran the 40-time at my coach’s camp just to show people how to do it, I ran a 4.5,” Hill explained. “But it was hand-timed. But I know I’m way faster than a 4.7.”
Hill holds two dozen scholarship offers, but he trimmed down his list of schools to just 10 this week. Tennessee made the cut along with several other top programs across college football.
So why those 10 schools, and why now?
“I’m really focused on those 10 schools because they’ve reached out more than the other schools,” Hill stated. “I think they’ve showed me more love than the other schools. Definitely Tennessee. They show me a lot of love, and I appreciate that.”
The four-star athlete is rated as the No. 297 overall prospect and No. 52 wide receiver in the 2021 class per the 247Sports Composite rankings. Though Hill already has four-star status, he’s not satisfied and knows there’s plenty he can work on.
“There’s always room to improve, so I’m just trying to improve everything on the defensive and offensive side,” Hill said. “On defense, I’m trying to improve my zone work and man work, working on my feet, changing direction, and my hips. At receiver, I’m trying to get better at braking down at the top of my route and trying to catch the ball better, trying to make my hands stronger.”
Hill has a lot of skill and potential on both sides of the ball, and he’s confident in his game. Whichever team that gets his commitment in the future will be getting an athlete who knows he’s good but isn’t closed off to teaching.
But Hill definitely doesn’t lack confidence.
“At DB, I can flip my hips better than some people at 5-10 because I’m 6-2,” Hill explained. “At wide receiver, I have good feet. I can get the ball, too.
“Just know that if it’s up there, 50/50, I’m coming down with it.”