Coaches love to talk about their players, sure. But Philip Jones really loves to talk about Matthew Hill.
Jones is the head football coach at Brookwood High (Ga.) where Auburn’s newest commitment shines in Georgia’s highest classification. Hill is one of the top 160 players in the nation. He lines up at wide receiver, safety, running back and kick returner for the Broncos. But when Jones thinks of Hill, all of that is secondary.
Jones uses an intriguing word — one rarely used about incredible athletes — to describe his star pupil.
“I think best word I know to use to describe him: It’s just his effervescence,” Jones told SEC Country. “His joy that he brings to the task. He loves his teammates. He loves his coaches. He loves the game of football. And it just comes through so well in everything that he does.”
What does Hill do well? Everything, according to Jones.
Hill is clearly a standout wide receiver. He’s proven that on the high school football field and at camps. But last football season, when Brookwood’s starting running back went down, Jones didn’t hesitate turning to Hill at running back. Of course, Hill had no problem filling that role.
(Side note: I covered Hill during his freshman season at Prince Avenue Christian when I was a preps reporter at the Oconee Enterprise. In the first game I covered of his, Hill played running back in Jeff Herron’s run-happy offense. He ran for a 71-yard touchdown. He returned a 99-yard kick return for a touchdown in one game. That was fairly common for, at the time, a freshman.).
So, it makes perfect sense when Jones talks about Hill doing everything for Brookwood.
“He’s so versatile,” Jones said. “If he was just a wide receiver, like you said, I think he’d be one of the best wide receivers nationally. He can very much be a hybrid running back and wide receiver. You can throw him in the backfield, which we had to do. And about half of his offers from Power 5 schools came as a safety. And then in the return game, as well, he’s going to return kicks for us. He’s one of those electric kind of guys that can do it all and do it all well. He’s just a football player.”
But whenever Jones starts talking about Hill’s physical skill sets, he always transitions back to “all those other things” Hill does for a football team. It’s the competitiveness. It’s the desire to be the first to successfully complete every rep. It’s the hope that all his teammates and coaches are having as much fun playing the game as he is.
All of those combine to make Hill the ultimate glue guy for a program.
“When you’ve got a kid that’s that special and has that kind of mentality, that kind of joy that jumps to everyone else, then you’ve got a chance to have a special culture as a team. He’s a unique kid,” Jones said. “I’m proud to coach him and I’m proud to just have him as a part of my life.”