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PSU's Hill injured knee earlier than reported

| Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, 5:26 p.m.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Penn State's Jordan Hill is carted off the field after getting injured during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in West Lafayette, Ind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings

HARRISBURG — Jordan Hill is preparing to play in the Senior Bowl next month, and the all-star game is a significant part of the NFL Draft process.

One thing that appears certain as the Penn State defensive tackle braces for the poking and prodding that prospects must endure until late April: His character and intangibles will be off the charts.

Hill, one of the seniors who helped keep Penn State together after the NCAA hit the program with severe sanctions, played more than half of the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Hill went down with a knee injury against Purdue, but the Steelton native told the Tribune-Review that he initially injured his knee in Penn State's Big Ten opener a little more than a month earlier when he tore cartilage in a Sept. 29 win at Illinois.

“When I got hurt against Purdue, it actually helped a little bit,” Hill said Sunday afternoon after signing autographs with quarterback Matt McGloin at Linebacker U, a sports collectibles store in Harrisburg Mall. “It knocked a little fluid out of my knee.”

Hill essentially played on one leg after spraining his knee in a Nov. 3 win at Purdue, but that didn't stop him from turning in a strong performance in his final game.

Hill dominated Wisconsin's offensive line, recording a career-high 12 tackles as well as two sacks in willing the Nittany Lions to a 24-21 overtime win. It came after he aggravated his knee injury early in the Nov. 24 game.

“I just didn't want to lose,” Hill recalled of the game that allowed Penn State to finish with an 8-4 record. “The first two series, it felt like last year at Wisconsin (when Penn State lost, 45-7). I'm like, ‘This has got to stop. They can't score on us that easy. Not what we've been through, not on our Senior Day.'”

Hill's play in that game is one reason why he was named a defensive co-captain and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in media and coaches' voting.

Hill will train at Penn State with strength coach Craig Fitzgerald and his staff in preparation for the draft. The 6-foot-1, 292-pounder also plans on taking the two classes he needs in the spring to graduate.

Hill has been projected as a third- to fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft — he likely will be the first Nittany Lion selected — but it is still early in the scouting process. Hill will play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26 and take part in the NFL Scouting Combine in February as well as in Penn State's Pro Day workout in March.

Hill said he already has learned to block out speculation when it comes to the draft.

“A lot of people tell you a lot of different things,” Hill said. “You just can't really listen to a lot of it.”

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com.

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