Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2001

s Hill waiting, weighing options

September 11, 2001


Hill, who needs just 26 receptions to become KU's all-time leading receiver, was visibly disappointed and distraught Monday while discussing his injury for the first time. He was knocked out of Saturday's loss to UCLA during a punt return in the opening minutes.

Hill, a KU co-captain, is expected to miss at least four to eight weeks.

"Worst-case scenario would probably be around eight weeks. I hope to be back sooner. I have to play again," Hill said quietly. "That can't be my last time that I play at KU. I'll be back sometime."

Hill's injury also was a hot topic for KU coach Terry Allen on Monday. He addressed the subject during both the Big 12 coaches teleconference and his weekly radio show.

"That's a team player," Allen said on Hawk Talk. "We all feel bad for Harrison. Harrison was there with us at practice (Sunday), walking around. I think we can all be real disappointed, but, boy, how hard that has to be for that young man, that family in that situation."

Hill will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

The Wichita Collegiate grad could appeal to the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility and receive a second medical red-shirt. He said he had been told the organization had been more flexible about such requests recently in similar cases.

"I really don't see that as a possibility," Hill said of a sixth season. "It's there. Maybe it could be a chance and I'm going to think about it depending on what happens this year, but that's definitely not in my plans."

Hill was granted a medical red-shirt after breaking an ankle in the second game of his freshman season.

"I'm glad I got hurt my freshman year," Hill said. "That gave me an extra year to red-shirt. I look at that as a very positive thing. Missing time " I was disappointed and I wanted to play, but looking back on it I realize it was definitely a very positive thing for me.

"I don't know what is the great thing to come out of this, but I'm sure I'll see it some day, why it happened."

Ironically, he wasn't even supposed to be on the field Saturday when he was injured.

Senior wide receiver Roger Ross normally is the KU's punt returner, but he was hampered by a sprained ankle. The Jayhawks didn't know if Ross was going to play until just before kickoff.

So, Hill trotted on to the field for his first punt return of the season. He snagged the ball on the Jayhawks' 27-yard line, made a move to his right and headed up the sideline to the 42, where he was knocked out of bounds by UCLA's Brandon Chillar.

"I watched it on film and it's kind of a weird deal," Hill said. "It wasn't even a huge hit. I was just running on the sideline and the guy came and hit me I think with his helmet and shoulder pads and knocked me out of bounds.

"As soon as he hit me, that's when it just broke."

After being taken to the locker room by trainers, he returned to the field in a KU warm-up suit and his left arm in a sling.

"I saw him over there and I just kind of thought, 'This doesn't look good,'" KU sophomore quarterback Zach Dyer said. "I saw him in a sling and he was dressed in his street clothes. Hopefully we can get him back pretty quick.

"He's definitely a key player for us."

Since the injury, Hill has heard from many well-wishers. He also said the fact that his family was in town from Wichita helped him get through a tough time. Hill's older brother, Hamilton, who played for KU, spent the weekend with his younger brother.

"I had a lot of people call and say they're praying for me and stuff like that," Hill said. "That's always nice to hear. You feel like people really care about you."

Hill said there was no physical therapy he could go through and that he won't be able to ride a stationary exercise bicycle for a while. All he can do now, he joked, is drink lots of milk and take his vitamins.

He's determined to make his way back to the field.

"I'm a captain on this team and I have to act like that," Hill said. "I can't try to be away from the team and be disappointed. I have to have a real active role. I have to be at practice all the time. I have to be able to help people out, help the receivers out, get them going.

"Probably even more so than in the past, I have to be a leader on this team. That's what I'm going to. I'm going to be positive and upbeat. This injury's not going to keep me down. I know I'm going to come back. It's just a matter of time."

-- Sports writer Robert Sinclair can be reached at 832-7185.

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