Wesley Hills’ Wildwood High School football career was about making history, taking a downtrodden program to the playoffs for the first time.
Hills’ college career will be more about maintaining a winning tradition.
The reigning Press Male Athlete of the Fall confirmed Friday that he plans to play for the University of Delaware next season on a full athletic scholarship.
“I’m really excited about it,” Hills said in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “Coming from Wildwood, you really don’t hear too much of Wildwood football winning games. Being able to come (to Delaware), with such a great history of winning, is something great, and I can’t wait to be a part of that history and make history.”
Delaware struggled to a 5-6 finish last season, leading to coach K.C. Keeler’s firing, but the Blue Hens have reached the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national championship game three times in the past 10 years, winning the title in 2003.
Hills, 17, said he was disappointed when Keeler was let go, but he had a positive visit with new coach Dave Brock, who last season was Rutgers’ offensive coordinator.
“He’s a really cool guy,” Hills said of Brock.
Hills said the Newark, Del., campus “just felt like home.” He chose the Blue Hens over several other schools, including their Colonial Athletic Association rival Towson.
The 6-foot-1.5, 198-pound Hills plans to play running back, though he also played defensive back for Wildwood. Scout.com actually lists him as an outside linebacker, but Hills said he had been unaware of that.
Last season, Hills rushed 205 times for 2,077 yards and scored 35 touchdowns last season. He was just the 12th player in South Jersey history to surpass 2,000 yards.
After winning just two games in his first three seasons combined, Hills helped the Warriors to a 6-4 record and their first South Jersey Group I playoff berth.
“They’re definitely going to get a good athlete,” Wildwood coach Rich Hans said in a phone interview Friday. “He’s a phenomenal football player.”
Hills likely will spend his first season as an understudy to senior star Andrew Pierce, a Cumberland Regional graduate who had an injury-plagued junior season after being named a preseason second-team All-American by The Sports Network. Hills said he met Pierce during a recent campus visit and they got along well.
Hills actually committed to Delaware in early January. He said he “tried to keep it as secret as possible” because he doesn’t like attention.
But with National Signing Day — the first day when senior football players can sign national letters of intent — coming up on Wednesday, he finally relented.
“It was going to be public either way Wednesday, so I might as well just get it out there,” he said.
Hills plans to sign his letter Wednesday morning at Wildwood, with friends and family in attendance.
“It was definitely a stressful thing, the whole recruiting process,” he said. “But I’m glad it’s over. Now I can just focus on getting ready to play for Delaware.”
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