Now a starter, MSU's Hill quickly becoming a star

Mississippi State's Kylin Hill, right, scores against Kansas State.

Staff Writer

A string of supportive messages and comments have come Kylin Hill’s way this week.

Last Saturday, Hill became the first Mississippi State running back to rush for more than 200 yards in a game in nearly a decade when he ran for 211 against Kansas State. The effort earned Hill the Southeastern Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week award.

Among those who congratulated Hill was the man he supplanted as MSU’s starting running back – Aeris Williams.

“He just told me great job and to keep it up,” Hill said of Williams’ words to him. “He said don’t stop and don’t let up.”

When even the man whose job has been taken is offering up praise, it becomes apparent that Hill might be in just the beginning stages of a special career. To be fair, Williams and Hill have always been close. Over the last year, Williams has mentioned multiple times how dominant he believed Hill could become. Hill said earlier this week that his relationship with Williams hasn’t changed despite the fact the two have switched roles.

“He’s like my big brother,” Hill said of Williams. “We’ve always been close. He brought me in actually. He helped with recruiting me to come here. I look up to him as my big brother still.”
Though Hill might look up to Williams figuratively, it’s Williams looking up to Hill now on the depth chart.

It’s quite unusual really. After all, Williams is just a season removed from a year in which he rushed for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns. He was the first MSU running back to crack the 1,000-yard mark in a season since 2014.

Yet when Mississippi State hired Joe Moorhead to be its new head coach prior to this season, new opportunities were given. Slates were wiped clean. Hill, just a sophomore, had his opportunity to leap the senior Williams. That’s exactly what he did.

“From spring, he came to camp and he earned the starting position,” MSU offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said of Hill. “I don’t think anybody would say differently. He came out and his mentality, his approach and his work ethic has been outstanding.”

Hill is showing he’s the total package and that the Moorhead offensive scheme fits him like a glove. Yes, he’s averaging 10 yards a carry this season with three scores on the ground. However he also has a pair of receptions – one for 53 yards and one for 16. Both catches were touchdowns.

“Some teammates don’t even call me a running back anymore,” Hill joked. “They call me a wide receiver.”

Make no mistake about it though, Hill is most definitely a running back. He’s a physical specimen that has the speed to run past you, the shiftiness to get around you and the strength to run over you.

His abilities have drawn comparisons to another Moorhead success story – Saquon Barkley.

Moorhead, as offensive coordinator at Penn State in 2016 and 2017, had Barkley as his running back. Barkley became nearly unstoppable under Moorhead’s scheme. In two years with Moorhead calling the shots, Barkley rushed for an astounding total of 2,767 yards and scored a whopping 36 touchdowns. Barkley also had 1,034 yards receiving and eight touchdown catches over the same span.

That all led up to Barkley being taken as the second overall pick in this past spring’s National Football League Draft. Now, in perhaps the biggest compliment Hill could get, the questions are being asked if he could be the next Barkley.

“He’s a beast out there,” Hill said of Barkley. “People comparing me to him, that boosts my confidence up and makes me feel like I’m doing good myself.”

Hill is quick to compliment others when it comes to all of his success. When he talks about the big numbers he’s putting up, he credits Moorhead’s offense. He’s always sure to credit his offensive line, often saying he has the easy job just running behind those guys.

Though all that may indeed be true, it’s Hill that has put in the work to earn himself his current role. Hill may just be scratching the surface of how good he could be too. Rushing for 211 yards against Kansas State was impressive without a doubt. Yet it might just be an appetizer for down the road.

“It’s all paying dividends for him right now,” Getsy said. “He’s a heck of a player too. You put all that together and he’s going to have hopefully more days like that.”