It’s no surprise that one of the most exciting players in this year’s draft attended a Florida school. What’s causing some astonishment is that this explosive receiver didn’t go to Florida, Florida State or Miami. In fact he didn’t even go to UCF or USF.
Diminutive Florida International University wide receiver TY Hilton is elevating up draft boards as fast as any player at any position. The 5-foot-9 5/8, 183 pound receiver is pound for pound as tough as any in this draft, and his sub-4.4 speed makes him a potentially great weapon for any team in the NFL.
Despite lacking prototypical wide receiver size, Hilton maintains the utmost confidence.
“I have an advantage on every play, because I know where the play is going and he doesn’t. As a slot receiver, you’re either up against the nickel guy or a linebacker. If it’s the nickel guy, he’s done; If it’s the linebacker, he’s toast,” Hilton explained.
In college, Hilton’s main position was “playmaker” as he lined up seemingly wherever the team needed him. Whatever team selects him in next month’s draft will receive a player of great versatility.
“They’re going to be getting a lot,” Hilton said. “A quarterback, running back, receiver, inside, outside. And I have a great (ability) on special teams as well.”
Hilton will have to overcome potential small school biases for teams looking to select a player of his stature as University of Florida receiver Chris Rainey has a similar build and stature. Hilton is fueled by the doubters.
“I always have a chip on my shoulder, the former Golden Panther explained. “I never take that chip off. I know I have a lot to prove; a lot of teams look at me and say, ‘Hey, he came from a smaller school.’ The chip is still there and I’m going to show those teams I’m here.”
Hilton doesn’t believe that the small-school label should be a knock on him as FIU did play some BCS opponents outside of their Sun Belt schedule.
“The teams we played were from the ACC, SEC, Sun Belt, all the great teams. And we played with them,” Hilton explained.
TY Hilton is an explosive player who fit’s the mold of a Dexter McCluster or Titus Young. His 4.3 speed is actually better than those players mentioned and he almost single-handedly elevated a dormant football program to a pair of bowl games.
This former Golden Panther will likely be drafted on the second day and will be a specialized weapon for some gutsy NFL team.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie