BY GENARO C. ARMAS
STATE COLLEGE —
Defensive tackle Jordan Hill had one last stand to make at Penn State before starting his NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks – posing for pictures in his graduation cap and gown.
But ever the smart player, the former Nittany Lion decided to skip the familiar snapshots at Saturday’s graduation ceremonies to hit the campus landmarks this week with the crowds thinned out.
Better hurry – Seahawks training camp starts this week.
“It was one of those things, something I wanted to do. I told myself in high school, ‘Whatever happens, make sure I get my degree from here,’ ” Hill said last week before graduation.
It has been a roller coaster four years in Happy Valley for Hill. A major contributor on defense since his sophomore season, Hill was one of the senior leaders that helped keep most of the Nittany Lions together after the NCAA handed down landmark sanctions on the program last July.
He had just as big an impact on the field. Hill played hurt late, turning in perhaps the finest performance of his career with 12 tackles and two sacks in an emotional, season-ending 24-21 win over Wisconsin.
Most recruiting analysts pegged Hill to go in the third round, which is when the Seahawks selected him two weeks ago.
Hill said he was a little surprised because he had never heard extensively from Seattle leading up to the draft. But he’s happy to land with a team with a good defense that is considered a Super Bowl contender next season.
“I’m happy to go in and help any way I can,” Hill said.
He’s the latest in a recent line of standout defensive tackles from Penn State who have made it to the NFL, including Miami’s Jared Odrick and Cincinnati’s Devon Still.
His immediate NFL future settled, Hill spent his remaining days before rookie camp soaking up the last remnants of college life. An avid golfer who interned on the campus golf course last summer, Hill also made it a point to hit the driving range.
The native of the Harrisburg suburb of Steelton had no regrets about his four years in Happy Valley.
“The best decide I made was to come here, just because I’ve grown so much off the field more than field,” Hill said.
Graduating with a degree in recreation, tourism and parks management, Hill said he’d like to return to the Harrisburg area after his playing days are over to get involved in youth organizations and “creating opportunities for kids to succeed.”