Chiefs Tyreek Hill Climbing with Lightning Speed

NOVEMBER 2016 – Tyreek Hill does just about everything fast.

He was the first to score a touchdown for the Kansas City Chiefs this year, helping them overcome the largest deficit in franchise history in the season-opening, overtime triumph over San Diego.

He is fast becoming a playmaking star.

“It’s just a playmaker play,” Hill said of the nine-yard TD reception, which began a 21-point comeback victory over the Chargers. “Coach put me in and I just took advantage of it. That’s just it. Instincts took over.”

It was his only catch of the game, but he has since added more catches and more touchdowns, including a spectacular one-handed, left-handed grab against the New Orleans Saints, which has his teammates raving.

“I saw him make that crazy catch in the end zone,” Travis Kelce said. “I said ‘Dang!  Alright little guy.’  It’s fun seeing him play.  He’s just a ball of energy.  It’s fun seeing him have the success early and I’m sure that success will keep going.”

Said Tyreek Hill, “I was just hoping to run as fast as I can and I just made a play. We knew coming into this game we were going to have to fight down the field to get leverage on the DB, and that’s what I did, so I just listened to the coaches and executed the play.”

The deep ball from Alex Smith to Tyreek Hill for a 38-yard score had been in the planning stages for a few weeks.

“We’re just trying to give him an opportunity,” Smith said. “I felt good with some of the matchups we’ve had. We’ve only taken a couple (of deep shots) prior to this, but he’s somebody that I feel like, given one-on-one coverage, is a threat downfield.  He made a heck of a catch.”

Coach Andy Reed said “they actually spent” time on that play.

“They stayed out (in practice) and hit a couple of those Thursday,” Reed said. “Time is spent on that and you just have to have trust to just put it up. You put it up and you bank that he’s going to go get it. He would have been a great center fielder, I’m telling you.  He’s able to adjust to the ball so well.  You’re able to see it on punts.”

Of course, Hill outrunning defenders is nothing new.  He clocked a 4.24 speed in the 40-yard dash at his pro day in March, which matched the best ever in an NFL combine.

When he was at Oklahoma State, Hill was identified by Kansas State coach Bill Snyder as “the fastest guy in the world.”

“He’s got world-class speed,” said Chiefs scout Ryne Nutt. “He’s probably the best returner I’ve done since I’ve been in the NFL, just elite explosiveness.”

Said Brett Gilliand, Hill’s West Alabama coach, “He can go from zero to full speed faster than anybody I’ve ever seen.”

About the only thing Hill hasn’t been able to outrun has been the controversy surrounding his domestic abuse charges.

He was dismissed from the Oklahoma State team in December, 2014, after being arrested for punching and choking his pregnant girlfriend.  Hill subsequently pled guilty and received a three-year deferred sentence.

He has since completed an anger management course, a domestic abuse evaluation and a one-year batterer’s program.  Hill remains in counseling and will be on probation until at least 2018.

He expressed remorse for “letting his feelings take control.” The team received a strong dose of negative reaction when they drafted him in the fifth round this spring.

Reid compared the situation to when Michael Vick joined the Eagles after he got out of prison after his felony conviction for dog fighting.

“I think there’s a human element involved,” Reid said.  “I went through this with Michael Vick; he tried to right the wrong.”

The Chiefs hope Hill will continue to make headlines with his play on the field and not with his off-the-field conduct. In the meantime, he’ll be under close scrutiny.

“I didn’t know totally what to expect,” Smith said of Hill’s rookie campaign.  “It’s hard to gauge rookies, what they might contribute. You get the full spectrum. It’s just different for everybody, and all the positions are different when they come in. He’s certainly a guy that has a lot on his plate, special teams wise, and then offensively he’s grown more and more, but he’s been able to handle it mentally, which is probably the biggest thing, obviously.  Not just physically, but mentally, that he’s been able to handle that.”

Hill’s teammates and coaches have praised his work ethic.

“We’re asking him to do a lot of different things,” Reid said. “He’s a sharp kid, innately a smart kid.  So, we’ve been able to give him probably a little more than I thought, as a rookie, he’d be able to do.  But, he’s handled it.”

Kelce acknowledged Hills’ “works hard all over” and wide receivers coach Dave Cully “has gotten him into the system.”

“Coach Reid’s a big believer that if you work hard you’re going to become something,” Kelce said. “You’re going to get things done.  That’s what we do every weekend.”

Hill’s speed and ability to contribute as a kick returner as well as a receiver gives the Chiefs a dangerous deep threat and could open up the field for even bigger gains.

“He’s a big-time, show-time player,” Spencer Ware said.  “He’s got big-time speed.  He’s coming along.  We have him doing a lot as a rookie, but he’s able to make the adjustments and make plays.  I commend him for his professionalism, with taking in everything with those packages and things like that.  It’s tough on a rookie playing two positions coming into the NFL, but he’s doing a very good job.  I’m excited to see more from him.  He’ll help us out a whole lot this year.”

The sparkling catch against the Saints gave Tyreek Hill three touchdowns, leading the Chiefs receivers in scores, while matching Ware for the overall team lead in TDs.

Since replacing Knile Davis – who was traded to the Green Bay Packers prior to Week 7 – Tyreek Hill has also begun to shine in the kick return role; his 197 yards in punt returns through six games ranked second in the NFL.

It seems just a matter of time before Hill scores a kick return touchdown.

“This game here, to me, is all about getting comfortable,” he said. “Once I got comfortable, I just started playing.”

And that could make NFL defenses very uncomfortable.

Article by Marc Bowman.

For more Chiefs articles, visit http://kcsportspaper.com/category/pro-teams/chiefs/

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