I got a ton of great info from Stephen Hill and those around him the other day as he tries to move on and forget the distractions of labels and titles. Here's some of the quotes that I couldn't fit in the story that ran today. Hopefully this gives even more context into why the Yellow Jackets believe he can put aside the past five games and return to the player they all knew and respected.
(On trying to be more of himself) It’s been tough. People starting to say ‘Just don’t worry about what Bay Bay did.’ Bay Bay really was a senior, in a way. But I’ve got two years left. I just need to keep working hard on building on.
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(On who Hill believes Stephen Hill is) Fast, go up and get the ball with the hands and not worried about what people are saying. I really let that be a big toll on me.
I just needed to stop pressing. Go out there and relax. Go out and have fun. I need to be what I used to be, instead of what I’ve been the past five games.
(On what led to feeling more pressure) The big hype over Bay Bay’s gone, and Stephen Hill’s supposed to be this big thing. It’s not about that. It’s just about me coming out there working hard and trying to help out the team and doing what I was able to do most of last year.
It was more of a thing where, I saw Bay Bay leave. It wasn’t that I knew what Coach Johnson wanted, I thought I could do the same thing that he was doing or better. For me, I was trying to take it too fast. I just need to take it day-by-day and work on just that day. Then the next day. Then, when it’s gametime, I need to work on each and every play. That first play? That’s what I need to work on. Play like it’s my last. The second play, that’s what I also want to do.
The best, they drop passes. (Monday) night, I saw (Randy) Moss drop a pass. I just have to keep my head up.
Paul Johnson, head coach
I think a lot of those guys got pre-hyped before the thing started and everybody wants to compare him to the (player) who was the first player taken in the draft. I may coach another 31 years and not have another receiver like (Thomas). They don’t come along.
So the comparisons for everybody trying to compare (Hill) to (Thomas) is unfair to him. And being a young guy, he’s tried to accept that role and live up to the billing. He’s put a lot of pressure on himself instead of just relaxing and playing.
It’s just confidence with him. I know he can do it. I’ve seen him do it. He’s just got to relax and catch the ball.
Roddy Jones, junior A-back
(On where Hill's pressure to perform came from) I don’t think there was any pressure put on by us. Stephen’s a great talent, but he’s still a young guy. Second year playing and he’s still learning. He’s going to go through some bumps and bruises and struggles like Bay Bay did. Everything wasn’t smooth sailing for him, either.
Stephen’s going to be fine. He’s going to come out and we’re going to push him this week and help him get on the right track and he’s going to be fine.
(On what teammates can say to him to reassure him) You just kind of tell him that no matter what’s going on with him now, we’re going to need him down the stretch. And Stephen’s somebody that we’re going to need. If we’re going to get to where we want to go, we’re going to need him to play and need him to play well. He’s a talented guy who can play in a lot of different ways. We just need to get him back to where he’s feeling good and making plays like we know he can.
Correy Earls, senior receiver
Stephen’s a good athlete. He knows he’s good, he’s got what it takes to win. He knows what he needs to do to be better. He knows what he needs to do to step it up and fix it himself. We don’t really have to talk to him. Stephen, he’ll come back this next game and possibly have the biggest game of his career.
(On what teammates can say to him to reassure him, if he wants an ear to talk to) I’m here, I’m one of the older guys here, and if he needs to talk to me, then he can talk to me. I’ll tell him, talk to me. We still keep in contact with Bay Bay so we can call him up and tell him to talk to him if he needs to. I’ve been there. I’ve been way down, I know everything between up and down. It’s football, it happens. It’s life, it happens.
Maybe he put higher expectations on himself because Bay Bay did such a good job and first-round draft pick, he saw that but he wasn’t here and didn’t see from ground zero where Bay Bay started. He didn’t get to see the progression and the hard work it takes and how far he’s come along. That doesn’t just come along. Like I said, he’ll be fine and do alright and maybe that will be him in the near future.
Buzz Preston, receivers coach
You’ve just got to keep pushing through it. it’s kind of a microcosm of life. You have struggles. And what you do is you have to just keep pushing through them and eventually, if you have the faith and determination, you’ll be able to push through them.
(On the fairness of Hill being compared to Thomas) I don’t worry about comparisons, all I do is, he’s Stephen Hill to me. He’s not anybody else. He’s Stephen Hill. And that’s who I’m going to work with, just like Tyler Melton’s Tyler Melton. Correy Earls is Correy Earls. I don’t try to compare players to any players in the past because we’re all different individuals and we possess different traits and personalities and physical. So what I’m doing as a coach is making sure I enhance those traits of that individual.
He’s a young man who has a lot of potential, and if he keeps working hard, he can do a lot of good things.