Boston College football players spoke with the media yesterday at Chestnut Hill. One of the featured athletes available to speak with the media was a player who unfortunately had his 2015 season cut short after sustaining an injury against Northern Illinois.
Running back Jon Hilliman was set to take off in 2015. To end his freshman campaign in 2014 he ran for 148 yards and a touchdown against Penn State in the Pinstripe Bowl, and appeared ready to build on that with a 119 yard performance against NIU, his first game where he was truly the feature back. But that was all she wrote for Hilliman, who missed the remainder of the season, watching the Eagles limp to a 3-9 record.
Hilliman watched from the sideline, as his teammates struggled, but the feeling and emotion was different as he tried to help anyway he could "I was there but it definitely wasn't the same. It's hard to be on crutches when you're trying to tell guys to hustle. It was tough, but gave me a different perspective on how practice should be run and how certain things should be done. I saw the things that can get you beat, and saw what it takes to actually win in this league. It was unique, seeing it from a coach's perspective."
But now he is back, and the former 4* recruit sounds hungrier than ever. Did the injury give him extra motivation? "I wouldn't call it extra motivation, but just being optimistic for another year. The injury isn't out of sight, out of mind. It's still the questions of 'What if?' But I try not to harbor on it, and try and stay optimistic and focused on this year for a lot of reasons and can't wait to get going." Hilliman told reporters on Thursday.
Does the redshirt sophomore running back simply want to get BC back to .500 or be bowl eligible? No, he’s got bigger goals in mind, as he expects excellence from both himself and his squad. "Same expectation every season: win an ACC Championship and be one of the top four teams in the college playoffs. For myself, be the best that I can be in everything. Not just one specific thing, but a little bit of everything. Be all I can be for my team."
While making the playoffs and winning the ACC might seem like a reach, especially after a three win season, it’s refreshing to see players like Hilliman strive to be the best. He’s a guy that came to Boston College to win, and it sounds like nothing less than that will be acceptable to Jon. When he talks about what he is looking forward to the most, that message was heard loud and clear. “Winning. Winning at maximum. Getting back to winning. That is what the fun is....As a competitor that's the stuff you work and train for and vision."
If Jon Hilliman can stay healthy, all signs point to his return as the feature back for the Eagles. An improved offensive line, along with his drive should bring results that should leave BC fans happy, and give Hilliman the wins he so badly craves.