Brian Hill is ready to make his dream a reality.
The Wyoming junior running back announced Monday he will forgo his senior season with the Cowboys to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
Hill, a physical runner, has carried the ball 775 times for the Cowboys. This year, he ran the ball 349 times, tied with San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey for most in the country.
In the end, it came down to not wanting to take another year’s worth of beatings before going pro.
“After talking it over with my mom and just thinking about how many carries I’ve done over these three years, this was a pretty easy decision not to put my body through 300 carries again,” Hill said. “I feel like I’ve given my heart to Wyoming for three years and now it’s time to move on and I feel like I’ve done enough to be able to move on.”
Hill finished his season fourth in the nation in rushing yards. He holds Wyoming records for career rushing yards (4,287), single-season rushing yards (1,860), career rushing touchdowns (35), single-season rushing touchdowns (22) and single-season total touchdowns (22). He is Wyoming’s first 3,000- and 4,000-yard rusher.
“It’s been my dream to play in the NFL for so long,” said Hill, who came to Wyoming from Belleville, Illinois. “I’ve been talking about it for so long, and it’s so close to becoming a reality.”
Hill applied for a draft evaluation from the NFL but has not yet received it. As interest in Hill grew, he directed all agents to his mother, Tamara Lewis.
“(She) interviewed them all,” Hill said. “We narrowed them down and we’ll be making our decision soon.”
Hill said he spoke some with Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl and running backs coach Mike Bath as he made his decision.
“We appreciate Brian’s efforts and his many contributions to our football program these past three seasons," Bohl said. "He helped us move Wyoming football in a positive direction over his three-year career, including helping us compete for a Mountain West conference championship this past season. Along the way he accomplished many great things as a Cowboy. We wish Brian all the best as he moves forward with his career.”
It had been reported previously by multiple sources Hill would declare for the draft, but a source told the Star-Tribune on Friday a decision had not been entirely reached. Hill tweeted Saturday: "Turned off twitter for a day and I declared again huh? Nice to see what my 'fans' really think of me."
He said Monday the final decision was made on Christmas.
Hill will train at Bommarito Performance Systems in Florida. He hopes to improve his pass-catching abilities before the draft, which will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia. He had eight receptions for 67 yards this season, the fewest in his three years at Wyoming.
“I’ll be working on my hands extensively,” Hill said. “I feel like that’s the phase of the game that is just not quite up to par yet with the rest of my game. I feel like I’m pretty good at pass blocking and running the ball and just need to catch it a little bit better.”
Hill said he won’t enroll in courses next semester, but plans to return to school eventually.
Hill will be competing within a competitive running back class, which includes potential draftees Leonard Fournette of LSU, Dalvin Cook of Florida State, Christian McCaffrey of Stanford and Nick Chubb of Georgia. Boise State junior Jeremy McNichols’ decision to forgo his senior season was also made public Monday.
“I’ve never been the type to shy away from competition,” Hill said.
Wyoming won just six combined games in Hill’s first two seasons at Wyoming. In his third, the Cowboys went 8-4 in the regular season, hosted the conference championship game and competed in the Poinsettia Bowl against BYU. Hill was suspended for the first quarter of that Dec. 21 game for missing curfew.
“Winning is everything,” Hill said. “And to me, I’m kind of disappointed that I had to sit out the first quarter for missing curfew last Saturday, but I wish I could have been there to help my team in that game, in that quarter, too.
“Like I said, winning is everything to me and just to be able to get those wins and send those seniors out on a good note just means the world to me.”