Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

Football: Hill has eye of the Tigers

County pipeline to Towson continues with commitment of Springbrook standout

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For two years, Darius Hill has done exactly what a middle linebacker is taught to do: Sit patiently, read his options, then choose what to do and do it with gusto.

Yet, when it came time to choose where to take his football talents at the next level, he only did the latter.

Not wanting to wait his whole senior season with the decision on his mind, the 6-foot, 208-pound Springbrook High standout recently gave a verbal commitment to attend NCAA Division I-AA Towson University in the fall of 2008, eschewing opportunities to potentially play at Division I-A schools such as Ohio, Pittsburgh and Kansas State, which have shown interest in him.

‘‘I like the way Towson treated me — they made it feel like family I didn’t really feel like dealing with waiting for other schools,” said Hill, who has led the Blue Devils in tackles in each of the previous two seasons. ‘‘When I got there, all the coaches came to see me, defensive, offensive and special teams — they told me, ‘You’re a good player and we want you here.’ And I saw flat out that they had a chart on their boards that listed me as their No. 1 choice. It’s definitely a big monkey off my back.”

Hill’s commitment is another in a long line of Montgomery County products to make the short trip to Towson, especially of late. Perhaps buoyed by the success of Gaithersburg High alum and senior linebacker Brian Bradford, who earned All-Atlantic 10 Conference Team honors a year ago, the Tigers have recruited hard in the county over the last two years. Their 2007 class includes Seneca Valley offensive lineman Malinda Weeramunda, Gaithersburg linebacker Josh McCants and Northwest linebacker Chris Patterson.

Even more relevant was their signing of former Springbrook wideout Nick Oates, who helped Hill make his decision shortly before concluded.

‘‘Nick blazed the trail — they love Nick up there up there,” said Blue Devils assistant coach Jeff Rabberman. ‘‘Their defensive coach [Bob] Benson, is the recruiting coordinator in our area and Nick told them about Darius right away, Coach Benson loved him and said it wouldn’t be bad to start a little pipeline down here. Darius has been huge for us the last couple years. We knew he’d be man junior year and it was just matter of time before colleges really jumped on him.”

A big part of the reason that Hill committed so early was so he could play his senior season worry-free. He’s frothing at the mouth to helped the Blue Devils go one step further than a year ago, when they finished 7-3 and missed the playoffs by virtue of Parkville’s (Baltimore County) last-minute victory over Towson High on the season’s final weekend.

‘‘Practice, games, I look forward to it all — as long as it’s football, it’s fun for me,” Hill said. ‘‘You can expect us to definitely progress from last season. The fact that we missed the playoffs by two points on a mathematical thing, hopefully it won’t come to that this year.”

Notes: Towson is a program on the rise. The Tigers finished 7-4 a year ago and are ranked 17th nationally in I-AA in the preseason by Street & Smith’s Magazine. ... Hill’s early commitment is the second to Towson by a highly rated player from the county. Almost three weeks ago, Clarksburg High defensive lineman Rob Osborne, who also had plenty of Division I-A interest (but no offers), committed to Towson as well.