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Cardinal Corner: Darius Hill

This season, OTP is proud to continue one of the most well-liked and well-read features on the site… Cardinal Corner. It’s our chance to catch up with former Cardinal footballers and sort of bridge the generations of this program. In 2008, we saw guests like Jason Whitlock, Lavar Charleston, David Gater, Blair Kramer, Cortlan Booker, and Chris Allen. 2009 has already seen Trey Buice and Nate Davis visit the Cardinal Corner.

In today’s edition, OTP was honored to touch base with a driving force behind the resurgence of Ball State in the mid 00’s, Darius Hill. Darius finished his career with over 2400 yards and 30 TDs… as a tight end. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he saw the Cardinals make their first Bowl trip in decades along with the following year’s undefeated regular season, MAC West title and second consecutive Bowl berth. Now Darius finds himself attempting to make an impact on the Cincinnati Bengals, and we are fortunate to touch base with our 2nd straight NFLer.

Cardinal Corner: Darius Hill


OverThePylon: Normally in this space we ask about what folks have been up to since transitioning out of Muncie and Cardinal and White. I think most are well aware of your journey to Cincy and joining the Bengals. Can you talk a little about your transition to professional football and the adjustment it’s been to get to that next level?

DariusHill:Since my time spent in Muncie, I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a member of the Cincinnati Bengals organization. The transition has been a little tough but for the most part it has went well. I am on the practice squad which is obviously not my goal but at the same time I feel like the Lord has blessed me because I came into rookie mini camp as a tryout player and was signed right after. Practice squad is a good stepping stone to start moving toward my goals in professional football. I would definitely say that the biggest differences in making that jump to the next level would be grasping the mental aspects of the game, getting adjusted to the speed of the game at this level, and of course adjusting to the business side of things because any day can be your last day with an organization.

OTP: Currently, the fanbase is far from pleased about the results on the field. As a player, do you notice fans that are negative about the program, staff, and administration? Or is it something that a team can totally avoid?

DH: As a player, negative things about the program will always be something that will be hard to avoid hearing or dealing with. Whether you’re in class and you hear some students discussing things about the players or coaches, or you’re just out in public and you hear things it’s just something that pretty much can’t be avoided. But at the same time you have to know as a player that there will always be those fans that stick with you through thick and thin, and those that will be your biggest supporters when things are going good but as soon as things go south they want to say negative things and give up on the program. That’s just how it is in sports on the college and professional levels.

OTP: The MAC and BSU is moving to the midweek game portion of the schedule. As a player who played, and did pretty well, in his fair share of weekday games, does the change in time and day really effect players that much? How is gameday on a random Thursday/Tuesday/Wednesday better or worse than Saturday?

DH: I personally felt like we enjoyed having the midweek games as a team when I played. You are usually the only game on national tv that night so anyone that is a true football fan and wants to see some football will tune in. I also thought week night games brought out more students because some students that will maybe leave on the weekends would be around during the week because of classes and would come and check a game out. As far as a weekday game having an effect on payers i would say it doesn’t matter. If guys are ready to play they are ready to play no matter what day of the week or what time it is. One way that i would say a game would be better on a week day would be you have extra time to study and prepare for your next opponent following your week day game and that can be very helpful going into the latter part of the season where things really start to matter as far as bowl eligibility and conference standings are concerned.

OTP: The constant chatter amongst BSU loyalists is that BSU will be fine once the youth on the roster gets some experience. In your own experience, can you talk a little about the growth and ability to succeed that comes from playing early and freshmen getting the experience they’re getting now?

DH: It’s indescribable how important it is for the younger players to get the most out of the reps they are getting as freshman and sophomores. If you think about it at most big time universities guys don’t even see the field sometimes until their junior or senior years and that might only be on special teams. So to get an opportunity early to see the differences in the speed and talent level of Division 1 football is very important. My first 3 years in Muncie we were pretty inconsistent as a team to say the least, but we were young too. But we also had a lot of guys get chances to play early on in their careers because of that youth and I would say judging from the records of my junior and senior years that obviously paid off big time.

OTP: Do you stay in contact with any of the current staff or players? Any advice or wisdom you could give to either the team or the fans as this season begins to wind down? Seen any games this season?

DH: As far as staff the only people I’ve really been in contact with has been Amara Koroma and Dante Love, two guys who i played with who are helping on the coaching side of things now. As far as current players I’d say that I still keep in contact with about 8-10 different guys just seeing how they are, telling them to keep their heads up, and keep working hard. As this season winds down the best thing that they can keep in mind is something that I’m sure they have been hearing a lot of and that is to finish strong. We have to use the end of this season to gain momentum going into next year to show that we can improve and be a top team in the west division. The only game I’ve had a chance to see was the homecoming game against Toledo. I got there toward the start of 4th quarter and was stunned at the way things ended. We definitely let them off the hook!

OTP: One of the biggest impacts this season has been the change in offensive production. Is that due to only youth? Is there something else that the casual fan may be missing? How can this offense improve?

DH: I would say the biggest problem with the offense is the youth, especially in the offensive line. No matter how big and strong your guys are on the offensive line, if they can’t communicate and bond as a unit your offense will be average at best. To gain the communication and things they need, it just takes time playing together and getting to know each others styles of play. Your offense will go as your o-line goes. They open the holes for the running back and protect the quarterback so he can throw the ball, nothing done without those guys up front doing their jobs first. As you know, Gerb, Rams and Brew all started since their redshirt freshman years and started off kind of rocky but they all worked so hard and it paid off for them individually and the team. If they work hard to get better and grow that mentality that they don’t want to be a middle of the pack MAC team they will improve and get better with time.

OTP: Can you give our readers your favorite memory as a Cardinal footballer?

DH: Without a doubt I would say my favorite moment as a cardinal player would definitely have to be when we beat Western Michigan last year to go 12-0. It was so crazy! The fans rushed the field, there were people everywhere, it really made us feel like we had finally won over all the fans who had doubted us since my class got to BSU. And the party that followed, well we’ll have to discuss that one another time. GO CARDS!

Big thanks to Darius for taking part in this and I hope the rest of Cardinal Nation can join OTP in wishing him well on his journey to the top of the ranks of the NFL. Go get ’em 88.


2 Responses

  1. Best of luck, Darius!!! Thanks for the insight!

  2. Love the candid thoughts from the Big Target. Go kick butt in the league, Darius!

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