|Miami-FSU game a homecoming for Hurricanes kick returner|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 19 October 2007 12:06|
It will be a happy one, no matter what the scoreboard says.
The annual matchup between Miami and Florida State always means so much to both programs. It's a rivalry game that goes back for decades and may carry more emotional weight than any other game on each team's schedule.
But to Hill, it will be extra significant, because this is the first time he'll be on the visiting sideline in his hometown. He'll be the enemy in his native Tallahassee when Miami (4-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) travels to face Florida State (4-2, 1-2).
``It's just a game,'' said Hill, who spurned the Seminoles' scholarship offers. ``But it's the first time I get to play in front of all my sisters and brothers, my father for the first time, my whole city.
``That's something that makes it more than just a game. I've got to keep my head up, because there's going to be a lot of emotions flowing, and I've got to play within myself.''
Hill's college debut came against Florida State last year, when he caught one pass for 7 yards in the Hurricanes' 13-10 season-opening loss at home.
He's hoping for a bigger impact this time.
Hill is averaging 22.1 yards per kickoff return this year for Miami, less than 3 yards shy of the ACC lead in that department, and took one 47 yards two weeks ago against North Carolina. He was held out of a game earlier this season after some lackluster practice efforts, but is back in good graces.
``He's doing good,'' Miami coach Randy Shannon said. ``Ryan's even practicing better at receiver now. He's doing a lot of good things right now.''
Doing so at Doak Campbell Stadium would be a storybook homecoming for the speedy sophomore.
He was widely expected to sign with Florida State, even though it's not unheard of for Tallahassee guys to venture south for college and for players in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to commit to the Seminoles.
Still, Hill's final decision to enroll at Miami was somewhat surprising. And as he signed the letter of intent to become a Hurricane, Hill couldn't help but think about getting the chance to face his hometown team.
``He's home. Everybody wanted him to go to Tallahassee and he made the commitment to come down to Miami. He'll be very juiced up for this game,'' Shannon said. ``He'll be excited. There's a lot of guys on that team that he knows.''
No surprise here: Hill thinks Miami will win.
Because of his Tallahassee roots, he knows the depth of the Miami-Florida State rivalry and understands how matchups between these teams tend to become classics.
He'd like to be part of one of those Saturday.
``This rivalry is so rich,'' Hill said. ``We're not going to blow them out. They're not going to blow us out. That's just how it always is. It's going to be big, and it's going to be something all the fans will want to see.''