Now the highest-rated running back the school has signed in over a decade, Kylin Hill’s first brushes with Mississippi State football came years ago. The Columbus, Mississippi, native was just a little kid when he first started cheering for the Bulldogs, the dream of being a football player dancing through his young mind, even if it didn’t seem truly possible.
As Hill’s body grew, so too did his passion for football. By the time he reached high school, what was once just the daydream of a child had become a near certain reality – Kylin Hill was going to be one of the chosen few who are able take the big stage in college football. The eventual question of where would he play was preceded by what now seems like a silly one: who would want him to come play for them?
Hill could have signed just about anywhere in the country today, if he had wanted to, but the summer before his 10th grade year at Columbus High School, his name was still decidedly under the radar compared to the attention he has garnered since. In an effort to earn the respect that was soon to come, Hill went to a camp at MSU to show what talents he had. It was there that State’s coaches got their first up-close look at him.
“At that point we knew,” MSU running backs coach Greg Knox said. “We wanted him. He was going to be special.”
From there, Hill’s career exploded. The talented running back quickly worked his way onto the field, and as his role grew, the attention he received from media and colleges alike multiplied exponentially. In his last two years of school, Hill racked up 3,493 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground, complemented by his 610 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
By the time his senior year was over, Hill was a four-star running back with offers to go any area of the country he liked, everywhere from LSU, Florida and Alabama to Ole Miss, Oregon State and Tennessee. Not that it was hard to predict, but MSU’s coaches were proven right after their evaluation so many years before.
“As he grew from that year and you continued to watch him, he got better and better,” Knox said. “His body started to change. He got stronger. Now he’s a more powerful runner. Still has great footwork, great vision. He’s very explosive, now, going from the point we first saw him to now in his career. A very explosive runner.”
That explained why MSU wanted him, of course. Meanwhile, Hill wisely took his time in deciding where he wanted to go, but what seemed like destiny became reality for the little kid from Columbus when he signed on to play for MSU.
Before he could make that choice, however, he needed to learn more than just the school colors and what little history he knew from growing up in the Golden Triangle. When Hill’s recruitment began, he had the opportunity to open the back panel and see how the Mississippi State machine worked.
Beyond comfort level with the city, the campus and the people, two things that helped MSU recruit Hill were found in their proven ability to develop true student-athletes. State’s track record of 1) players graduating and 2) players going on to the NFL were hard to ignore.
“I think it helps in recruiting for kids to see what you’ve done with the production of your program,” Knox said. “You’re producing NFL players. You’re helping them develop into what they want to be – NFL players. You’re giving them that opportunity to develop themselves and possibly go on and play at a higher level. In the whole big picture, they’re getting a degree out of it. That’s the main thing. But they see your program, they look at the inside of it, they see how you’re developing kids and giving them a shot at the next level.”
Today, when Hill signed his letter of intent and faxed it to MSU’s football office, it was the end of one journey and the beginning of another. And while it may have taken a while, the realization of the childhood dream should’ve been obvious from the start.
“He always said this was childhood favorite. This was where he wanted to come,” Knox said. “He’s Maroon and White, and we’re happy about that.”