By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Wes Hills is back in the NFL.
The Wildwood High School graduate has signed with the Detroit Lions and has been assigned to the team’s practice squad, the team announced Wednesday morning.
Hills, a 6-1, 205-pound running back, joins the Lions after being released with an injury settlement by the Arizona Cardinals out of training camp. Hills led the Cardinals in rushing with 63 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries during the preseason but did not see much action after the first exhibition game. He also caught two passes for 18 yards.
Hills, 24, had signed with the Cardinals as a free agent in May after going unselected in the 2019 NFL Draft in late April.
As per the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, Hills will earn a minimum of $8,000 per week as a member of the Lions’ practice squad, according to a story on NFL practice squad rules that appeared in USA Today. Practice squad members normally practice and work out with their teams in the same manner as active-roster players but cannot suit up for games unless they are added to the active roster. NFL teams can carry a maximum of 10 players on the practice squad.
Hills joins a Lions team that is 2-1-1 on the season. Among their victories was a 27-24 result over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 22.
Hills initially worked out for the Lions on Sept. 27, according to media reports.
Hills played football last season at Division II Slippery Rock, where he rushed for a program-record 1,714 yards and scored 17 touchdowns even though he missed two full 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 in mid January 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 played three seasons at FCS Delaware after graduating from Wildwood in 2013. 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.