The Indianapolis Colts had an awful 2011 season with a 2-14 record, but on the bright side, the Colts were able to have an excellent draft day. Of course they drafted Andrew Luck the first overall pick, but they were also able to pick up two tight ends and wide receiver, Eugene “T.Y.” Hilton. Hilton was taken in the third round as the 92nd pick.
Hilton was a star wide receiver at Florida International University, and I know what you are going to say, “What? Florida International?”, but don’t sell him short just yet. Although he doesn’t hail from a big time football school like Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama or Nebraska (just to name a few), he is deemed to be one of the best receivers in college football. Let’s remember, he choose to attend FIU in order to stay close to home.
At FIU, Hilton was named Sun Belt Freshman of the year, first-team all conference returner and all- purpose player, as well as a Freshman All-American as a return specialist. As a freshman he racked up 41 receptions for 1,013 yards, 14 rushing attempts for 43 yards, 36 kick returns for 843 yards and 18 punt returns for 266 yards. By the year’s end he had scored 11 touchdowns, all while injured!
Hilton was able to build an excellent reputation within the football community as a solid special teams player. In a game against Alabama Hilton picked up 96 kickoff return yards. Even Alabama head coach Nick Saban said that Hilton is “a better offensive player than anyone (from Virginia Tech) that we played last week”. It was quite an endorsement for someone from such a small school.
During FIU’s Pro Day, Hilton averaged between 4.34 and 4.39 for his 40 yard dash time. He was also reported to have good hands, great vision and able to make great cuts on his routes.
Unfortunately, Hilton enters the NFL with some issues. One of which is that he is relatively small in size, compared to other NFL WRs. At only 5’10” and 185 lbs. defensive players will easily be able to knock Hilton off his routes, and probably off his feet!
Hilton’s second issue is that he is somewhat injury prone. During his college career Hilton often suffered hamstring injuries, which kept him out of several games including all-star games and the NFL combine. After the first day of Colt’s mini-camp in early May, Hilton had to leave because of strained quadriceps.
Colt’s coach Chuck Pagano commented on Hilton’s injury saying, “he’s a little banged up. I know he can run and I know he is explosive.”
Hilton’s durability (or lack thereof) might compromise his playing time in 2012. However, this is a rebuilding year for the Colts, and Hilton will have his chances to prove himself at the professional level. With a new QB and other offensive weapons, Hilton could become a great receiving option for Andrew Lock. No matter what, I am certain we will see him on the field as the special teams punt and kick receiver at the Colts opening game. As long as he can stay healthy, that is.