By BRIAN CUNNIFF
After a week of practice in which he continued to thoroughly impress NFL scouts, Wes Hills’ experience in the Senior Bowl ended after just one big play.
The Wildwood High School graduate reeled off a masterful 22-yard run on his first touch of the game but then suffered an ankle injury on the next play and did not return.
The extent of the injury was not known at the game’s conclusion.
Hills, competing for the South team, nearly scored on his run. He ran off left tackle and bolted for the pylon at the front of the end zone but was pushed out of bounds at the one-yard line.
After an MVP performance at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, in which he ran 10 times for 79 yards and a touchdown, Hills further impressed NFL scouts during practices leading up to the Senior Bowl.
Held in Mobile, Ala., the Senior Bowl is considered to be the most prestigious of college football’s senior all-star games.
Hills was thought to be a late-round draft selection in the NFL Draft in late April or eventually sign with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent. Many scouts believe Hills has drastically improved his stock after his performances over the last two weeks.
Dane Brugler, who covers the NFL Draft for The Athletic, tweeted about Hills in the days leading up to the Senior Bowl.
“Hills had the best week of practice among the RBs, IMO,” Brugler wrote. “He has put together two very strong weeks at the NFLPA Game and Senior Bowl. He is on the rise.”
Hills played the 2018 season at Division II Slippery Rock University. He set a new program record with 1,714 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns despite missing two games and most of another due to injury. He played his first three college seasons at Delaware.
Hills was awarded a Senior Bowl invite after a strong week of practice leading up to the Collegiate Bowl, which was held at the Rose Bowl.
“It’s a blessing to have these opportunities,” Hills said in a story on Slippery Rock’s website prior to the Senior Bowl. “I’ve just been taking it one day and one rep at a time, trying to learn as much as I can and make the most of the chances I’ve been given. I’m excited to be able to represent Slippery Rock and our program throughout this whole process. When I was in high school I remember watching the Senior Bowl and thinking that I wanted to get a chance to play in it someday. I’m getting that chance … and I’m going to make the most of it.”
Hills enjoyed an extraordinary career at Wildwood High prior to his college days. He ran for a Cape May County record 2,107 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior after posting 1,294 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior. Wildwood made its first-ever South Jersey playoff appearance under the current system during Hills’ senior season in 2012. Hills was also a standout basketball player and set school records in the triple jump and 400 meters in track.