The consistency in the defensive secondary has been a big reason why Pitt’s defense has reached the heights it has over the last two seasons.
Erick Hallett hasn’t made up his mind about returning to Pitt next season, but his safety partner has. Brandon Hill announced Saturday that he has opted out of the Sun Bowl and declared for the 2023 NFL Draft.
“Also, I would like to thank Coach Narduzzi, and the entire coaching staff at the University of Pittsburgh, for giving me the opportunity to play Division I football, surrounded by best coaches in the world, in the greatest city there is. It was truly an amazing four years and a time I will never forget.”
Thank you Pittsburgh!💛💙 pic.twitter.com/7sbfOLylYy
— Brandon Hill (@brandonhill_6) December 17, 2022
Hill arrived in Pittsburgh as a tip-rated safety out of Florida, committing in the class of 2019. He redshirted in 2019, but he played in 36 games over the last three seasons –starting 27 games.
In four seasons at Pitt, he racked up 172 tackles (91 solo), three tackles for loss, three interceptions, 12 pass breakups, three forced fumbles, two recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.
Hill broke out as a star safety in 2021, earning All-ACC second-team honors for his efforts, racking up 71 tackles (38 solo), a tackle for loss, two interceptions, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a recovery.
While his 2022 impact wasn’t as apparent (67 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble returned for a touchdown), opposing quarterbacks didn’t throw Hill’s way in coverage as often. Over the last two seasons, Hill has racked up 1,503 defensive snaps — which will be tough to replace.
Hill stepped into the shoes left behind by players like Damar Hamlin, Dane Jackson and Paris Ford, and he didn’t look out of place. In fact, he fit right in. He just had fun playing football at Pitt.
“Playing this game, it’s a great feeling,” Hill said after the win over Duke. “You always want to make the play, you always want to have fun in making those plays, it’s fun and you can see it out there.
“As soon as Erick (Hallett) makes a play, I’m on his hat, I’m cheering up. If SirVocea (Dennis) is in the backfield, I’m coming from 20 yards back to celebrate with him.
“The game of football is fun.”