By Kevin Eck
Justice Hill Is Making a Powerful Statement
A number of running back duos over the years have been referred to as “Thunder and Lightning” if one of them is a power back and the other is speedy. This preseason, Ravens rookie running back Justice Hill is looking like a one-man “Thunder and Lightning,” the perfect storm against opposing defenses.
Everyone knew about the fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State’s speed – he posted the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.4) among running backs at the NFL Combine in February – but his physicality belies his 5-foot-10, 200-pound frame.
“Hill’s speed offers a strong complement to the Ravens’ bruising ball-carriers, and in the preseason, he’s displayed signs that he can muscle through defenders, too,” Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz wrote.
When Hill was asked after Saturday’s practice if he feels people underestimate his physicality and power, he replied: “Yes, for sure. I feel like they just think I’m a speed guy, or just because I’m 200 pounds, they think I’m just straight speed. But I feel like I have a good package, and I’m going to be able to do a little bit of everything. Yes, I feel like that’s a part of my game that is pretty much slept on.”
Anyone who doubts Hill’s strength need only look at the video that has surfaced of him squatting 565 pounds in college.
“He actually got mad that [Assistant Athletic Director/Athlete Performance Rob Glass] stopped him there. He wanted to go up,” Oklahoma State Strength and Conditioning Assistant Gary Calgano replied on Twitter.
Hill displayed his power on a 14-yard run during the Ravens’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
“When an Eagles defender stepped in front of him Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens rookie running back didn’t rely on his speed. He lowered his shoulder,” Kasinitz wrote. “He used his strength to absorb contact from Philadelphia safety Tre Sullivan and spin into the open field. Then he plowed through a couple more Eagles would-be tacklers, pushing and stomping his way to a 14-yard gain.”
“The ability just to break tackles, and balance – contact balance – and then unusual power for a guy that weighs 190 pounds,” Baldinger said.
It’s not surprising that Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman is excited about Hill’s versatility.
“I don’t think he’s the guy that you just go, ‘Oh, the ‘toss guy’ is in the game. Watch for the toss,’” Roman said. “I think he has shown that he can run a variety of run schemes – inside, outside – and he’s displayed vision and quickness to definitely run the scheme. But also, you love it when, if something breaks down or changes, he can fix it on the fly. … We’re all really excited about Justice.”