Iowa Football: Hawkeyes land 3-star RB C.J. Hilliard

Iowa adds 3-star Ohio RB to 'AIRBHG'-controlled backfield

6/7/13 in NCAAF   |   Tyler_Waddell   |   426 respect

Iowa picked up a much-needed playmaker at the running back position Thursday morning from C.J. Hilliard of Saint Xavier High School (Oh.), who picked the Hawkeyes over Indiana and others.Blog Photo - Iowa Football: Hawkeyes land 3-star RB C.J. Hilliard

Hilliard, a three-star prospect and the No. 67 overall player at his position for the class of 2014, was given a .843 grade from the 247Sports Composite rating—a small upgrade (on paper) from the four running backs signed in the 2013 class.

“When I went to Iowa it was just a great family atmosphere,” Hilliard told Pat Harty of “And the student atmosphere seemed great and the campus life seemed awesome.
“And they have great academics as well a great football program and a consistent football staff," he continued. "When I committed to Iowa, I’m not worried about the coaches leaving or anything.”

At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Hilliard is an elusive back with top-end speed (sub-4.6 40) and good cutback ability. He knows how to hit the gaps hard and find space with little-to-no opening.

Hilliard shows great field vision and follows his blockers very well. He's smaller than you're average pound-and-ground running back, but is not shy when it comes to driving the ball up the middle and enjoys contact—he runs low and is balanced, utilizing his strong lower body and is hard to bring down.

During his junior year, he rushed for 628 yards off 134 carries (4.7 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns, adding 12 catches for 55 yards.

Iowa has always been and will continue to be a run-first football program, so Hilliard is a good fit here. His versatility as a pass-catcher is a nice addition and will help him against competition to find the field early.

He'll have plenty of it, too—the Hawkeyes currently have eight running backs on their roster, not including a late summer addition of an incoming freshman from last year's class.

Still, nothing is ever set in stone when the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God (AIRBHG) is forever stalking your program, waiting to strike and take down its next victim. It took out six Iowa running backs in 2012, from ACL tears to intimidation transfers.

Hilliard makes the fifth commitment for Kirk Ferentz's recruiting class of 2014 and the first running back to pledge, but it would be a safe assumption to say that he won't be the only one to join a backfield that is always needing extra depth.

Aside from Iowa and Indiana, Hilliard held offers from Akron, Boston College, Bowling Green and Ohio.

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