FIU recruit E.J. Hilliard preparing for his collegiate career

By: Jackson Wolek / Staff Writer

The Northwestern Senior High School football program in Miami, Fla. has produced many players who have made it to the Division-I FBS. A number of players have even made it to the NFL.

The long list of players include names such as quarterback Jacory Harris of UM, Green Bay Super Bowl champion Khalil Jones and starter for the Louisville Cardinals, freshman Teddy Bridgewater.

On this year’s team, three-star recruit (according to rivals.com), quarterback E.J Hilliard chose FIU back on May. 18 to play his colligate ball. For the first time ever, he played in his fuure home–FIU Stadium. Hilliard did not disappoint. Northwestern had a convincing 40-32 victory over Columbus on Oct. 14.

“I loved it, it felt good, it felt like home,” said Hilliard on playing at his future stadium. “I’m just happy to get a chance to play here before I get here.”

Hilliard went 14-25 passing in the game for 231 yards and one touchdown, while also running for one more. For the season, he has passed for 1,415 yards on 92-155 completions and 14 touchdowns with only four interceptions through eight games.

“He’s confident, not cocky,” said head coach Billy Rolle. “He’s a real smart kid and has a great arm. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a lot of playing time because he spent two years behind [Teddy] Bridgewater, so it’s really his first full year at the helm.”

Even though Hilliard has the third most passing yards and touchdowns in Miami high schools this year, he still feels like he could do better. On the same token, Rolle says that he just asks him not to make mistakes.

“Stat wise, I’m having a good season, but every game I miss like ten throws that I could have made. So I criticize myself a lot just to make myself a better player,” said Hilliard.

Next year he will be joining current Panthers  and Northwestern alumni Wayne Times, Kenny Dillard, Dominique Rhymes, Donald Senat and Clinton Taylor.

“I played with most of those guys…so it’s like a bunch of family and everybody’s getting older and moving on to the next level,” Hilliard said.

Not only has Hilliard played with the current players, but Rolle was the one who helped bring them to FIU. Hilliard likes what he sees out of the team.

“The program is coming up, coach Mario Cristobal is doing a great job and it’s a family atmosphere,” said Rolle. “All of the hype has always been about the ‘U’ and now you got FIU for the kids to be able to go to. They have a great schedule and games on national television, so the kids feel like they can get some publicity in the FIU program.”

Hilliard will be competing against Akil Dan-Fodio, Loranzo Hammonds, Fred Porter and Jake Medlock for the starting spot next season after starter Wesley Carroll graduates.

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