By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Wes Hills will officially be a professional football player today.
The 2013 Wildwood High School graduate is set to sign a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals, according to a source close to both Hills and Hills’s agent.
Hills, a 6-2, 220-pound running back, is expected to participate in the Cardinals’ three-day mandatory rookie mini camp set to begin Friday in Arizona, according to the source. The Cardinals then have three sets of voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) scheduled for May 20-22, May 29-31 and June 3-6, before a mandatory minicamp for all players scheduled for June 11-13. Training camp is set to begin in mid to late July.
Hills drew the attention of NFL scouts after an impressive 2018 season for Division II Slippery Rock University, where he rushed for a program record 1,714 yards and scored 17 touchdowns despite missing two games and most of another due to a shoulder injury. He went on to earn MVP honors at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 19 after rushing for 79 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He then played in the Senior Bowl the following week in Mobile, Ala., and reeled off a 22-yard run on his first carry before leaving the game due to injury.
Hills was thought to be a late-round candidate leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft in late April according to multiple reports but went undrafted. He participated in a rookie mini camp as a tryout player last weekend with the Seattle Seahawks but was not signed. Hills was scheduled to participate in a rookie mini camp with the Atlanta Falcons this weekend before agreeing to his deal with Arizona.
Hills played three seasons at FCS Delaware after graduating from Wildwood. He averaged 8.1 yards per carry and was a special teams standout as a freshman before running for 952 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore. He took a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending injury in the first game of his junior season. He came back the following year and averaged 8.3 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns for the Blue Hens.
Hills left Delaware prior to his senior season and sat out a year before landing at Slippery Rock ahead of the 2018 season.
As a high school player at Wildwood, Hills set Cape May County records with 2,107 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns while leading Wildwood to its first-ever South Jersey playoff berth under the current NJSIAA playoff system. Hills was also a standout in basketball and track as a high school athlete.
Should Hills make the Cardinals’ roster, he would become the second Wildwood High School graduate to play a regular-season game in the NFL. Randy Beverly played five seasons in the AFL-NFL as a defensive back and recorded two interceptions in the New York Jets’ 16-7 upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Another Wildwood High School graduate, Billy Osborn, signed a free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in1989 but never appeared in a regular-season game. Osborn, a former standout wide receiver at the University of Pittsburgh, was an assistant football coach at Wildwood during Hills’ senior season.
Hills is joining an Arizona Cardinals organization that has been in the news prominently since the beginning of the year. The team hired Kliff Kingsbury as its new head coach in early January and then used the No. 1 pick overall in the 2019 NFL Draft to selection Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray of Oklahoma. The team subsequently traded quarterback Josh Rosen, the 10th overall selection in last year’s draft, to the Miami Dolphins.