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‘This Means A Lot to Me’: New Pitt LB Todd Hill Has Waited For His Pitt Opportunity



In the first two games back from injury, Todd Hill didn’t feel right. “Dang, I don’t know what’s up with it,” he wondered, feeling like his body wasn’t quite doing what he was asking of it.

Hill tore his pec in Duquesne’s Week 3 game against Thomas More last season, a game in which he recorded four tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, and in those first two games back, he racked up 11 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks. It was as if he was healthier than ever.

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“They were telling me it was just a strain, so I’m like okay, it’s just a strain, so I’m gonna keep doing me,” Hill told PSN. “And that’s all I took in through it, and I just kept that mindset and basically fighting through everything.”

In the next six games, playing with a torn pec, Hill recorded 38 tackles (25 solo), 12.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.

It was Hill’s best season at Duquesne, his breakout performance with the Dukes, and he did it all with a completely torn pec. So, while he had a first-team All-Northeast Conference campaign, he took a risk when he entered the transfer portal in March. He bet on himself, and when Pitt gave him a chance, he knew what to do.

After entering the portal, Hill was just chilling one morning when his phone rang. It was Pat Narduzzi.

“We like your film,” Narduzzi told him. “We saw your film against Florida State, Hawaii and Saint Francis. We think you’re great and want to get you down here.”

So, of course, Hill went down to the facility for a visit. And while he was there, hanging out with Narduzzi in his office, the only thing that held back an offer at that point was his pec history. “We like you, we want you to be here, the only thing is your pec situation, but once we get that strong, we feel like you can play here,” Narduzzi said. 

“Alright, that’s all I need, coach, that’s all I need,” Hill told him. 

Since the spring game, Hill has been heading down to the facility not just to check in with his pec but to continue to build those bonds with the coaching staff. And he’s liked what he’s seen from a recovery standpoint but also from a relationship standpoint. Since Monday, Hill has been working out down on the South Side, focusing on rehab, PT and being ready to go in the summer.

So, it only made sense to commit — officially — to Pitt Thursday afternoon.

“It means a lot to me personally because this is what I always wanted to do, just try to prove and show I can play with the best,” Hill said. “This means a lot to me, I really can’t explain how much it means, I just want to show how much it means on the field.”

It doesn’t hurt that he knows all of the WPIAL guys on Pitt’s roster either. Especially Nahki Johnson. The pair played together in high school, winning a WPIAL championship together, and Johnson was a guy who reached out immediately once Hill entered the portal. If there was one person, it was Johnson.

The message was simple. He told Hill that he was one of the best players he’s ever played with. It was time to come together once again and get to work.

It also doesn’t hurt that Pitt’s defensive scheme was ripe for a player with his talents. With 22 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks last season, Hill operated largely as an outside linebacker. There isn’t truly an edge-rushing spot for linebackers at Pitt, but he’s the kind of player who can fill a hybrid slot.

At 5-foot-10, 240 pounds, he isn’t the tallest, but he is stout and powerful. And while he won’t be a true defensive lineman at Pitt, he may line up there next season. And at the very least, his prowess as a situation Money linebacker, defensive end hybrid is intriguing.

“At this point, it’s really up in the air because they want me to play d-line and linebacker, so I really don’t know as of now,” Hill said. “Basically just floating around and trying to study everything I can.”

Hill served as that outside linebacker at Duquesne last season, to great success, and as he’s watched Pitt’s defense over the last few seasons, he’s seen an aggressive, physical kind of defense that suits his game. He’s seen the defensive juggernaut in full force.

“A lot of players that I see, like Aaron Donald, Calijah Kancey, their defensive linemen that have been drafted in the last few years, I feel like me personally, even if I play outside linebacker or d-line or linebacker, I just feel like going into that system and learning and getting better and training the right ways, I feel like I can get a bigger impact and progress myself faster to help them win and do stuff too,” Hill said. 

Despite the losses along the defense, with Kancey, SirVocea Dennis, Habakkuk Baldonado, Brandon Hill, Erick Hallett, among others, headed to the NFL, it’s a defense that’s expected not just to reload but succeed. And Hill

“I really wouldn’t believe it, just after last season, everything changed a lot,” Hill said. “Even how I was approaching stuff, I never knew this was gonna happen, so I’m at the point where I just wanna do what I can to put myself in the right opportunity to make plays and be a guy on that team. All I’m trying to do is just go there and do what I can do and perform. And show that I’m one of the top guys around.”

And if there’s one thing he wants to do now, it’s come into Pitt and work. Work, work and work. And fit into the defense to work toward an ACC championship with the squad.

And after five seasons at Duquesne, recording 144 tackles (88 solo), 34 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup, it’s still kind of surreal that he’s actually going to play at Pitt.

But it’s happening now. And it couldn’t be more anticipated.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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