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Valley grad Hill finally pain-free entering senior year at Ohio

| Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 12:03 a.m.
Daniel Kubus
Ohio tight end Troy Hill, a Valley graduate, started 10 games last season for the Bobcats after missing his sophomore year with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Daniel Kubus
Ohio tight end Troy Hill runs upfield after a reception as the Ohio Bobcats on October 13, 2012 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. Hill is a Valley High School graduate.

Troy Hill is working an internship at Ohio University in event planning. Seems appropriate since Hill has been planning a healthy senior football season for months.

“It's long overdue,” Hill said. “There's a good vibe going around.”

Now that the time has come, and he's at 100 percent again, the Valley graduate has his sights on his most impactful year yet in Athens.

Ohio opens the season at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Louisville.

A redshirt senior tight end, Hill had shoulder surgery after his freshman season and missed his sophomore campaign with an ACL tear in his left knee.

Hill (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) returned to action last season and made 10 starts for a Bobcats team that went 9-4, climbed into The Associated Press Top 25 rankings for the first time since 1968 (No. 25) and won the Independence Bowl.

Ohio, which started 7-0 last year, recognizes Hill's importance — as evidenced by his photo on the cover of the team's media guide.

“I know my role is going to be bigger,” Hill said. “Expecially coming off of last season. They expect more from me. I have to step up to the plate and be a big part of our offense.”

A blocker and pass-catcher in an offense that utilizes two tight ends, Hill showed some big-play potential last season when he caught 14 passes for 169 and three touchdowns as Ohio averaged 31.7 points per game.

His production has increased steadily after a slow-starting college career that needed a spark to get crackling.

The injuries slowed his progress, but not his drive.

“When I came in as a freshman, I was lost and confused like the freshmen are now,” Hill said.

“As time went on, I had to wake myself up and take on a leadership role. (Coming back from injuries) helped build my character.

“I realize that I just finished my last training camp. But I still have to go through the same routines and can't take it easy out there. I know I can double up on what I did last year; I know I can do twice as much, maybe three times more.”

Ohio added another strong tight end in Anthony Talbert, a transfer from North Carolina State who also is a redshirt senior.

At 6-4, 245, Talbert mirrors Hill's size, and the two together aim to give opponents matchup issues. Coach Frank Solich calls the duo his “bookends.”

“This past offseason was Troy Hill's first offseason of being able to really lift, get stronger, and work on things,” Solich told OhioBobcats.com. “He took full advantage of it, and you can see it. With his frame, and his great mental approach to the game in terms of toughness, he can do it all.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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