DeShaun Hill Profile
Nov. 6, 2000
Sophomore safety DeShaun Hill has only played at USC for two years, buthe's been a Trojan since he was a young boy.
Like most kids, Hill used to like to spend his time sitting around andplaying video games. His uncle Derek noticed this and suggested to Hillthat perhaps he should try playing football. So the 10-year-old joined aPop Warner football team whose name would be a foreshadowing of things tocome.
'The name of the team was the Poly Trojans,' said Hill, who also playedwith current Trojan defensive back Darrell Rideaux on that team. 'They putme on defense and I found out right away that I could play. That's prettymuch how it happened. I was just out there having fun.'
Bitten by the football bug, Hill dedicated himself to the sport and went onto play at Poly High in Long Beach, Calif., a high school known for itsfootball excellence.
'It's a great tradition that we have going on there,' said Hill, whose Polyteammates included current Trojans Rideaux, Kareem Kelly and MichaelPollard. 'Before I was even born, the system was set. It was well knownthat players who come out of Poly are talented and well coached.'
Hill had a solid junior year for the Jackrabbits, but just as his footballcareer seemed to be taking off, a devastating leg injury knocked him offcourse.
'I broke my leg the first day of pads during my senior season,' said Hill,who subsequently missed out on Poly's 1997 state championship run. 'Ithurt a lot. For the first seven games I didn't even go to practice. Wewere winning every game, but I was not playing. It just hurt a lot.'
In addition to coping with the fact that his career at Long Beach Poly wasover, Hill also had to face the realization that he was losing hisopportunity to impress college recruiters.
'My getting a scholarship was pretty much based on my performance my senioryear and I thought that was going to be big for me,' Hill said. 'But sinceI got hurt, I didn't have any colleges talking to me. I knew right thenand there that if I wanted to keep playing football I was going to have togo to a junior college.'
However, Hill didn't just sit around and wait for his injury to heal.Instead, he dedicated himself to learning how to play defense at thecollegiate level.
'My senior year I went to Long Beach City College practices and tried tolearn the defenses,' Hill said. 'I used to go up there every day and workout with them. I was just watching and learning.'
Hill's effort paid off. He enrolled at Long Beach City College (where yetanother current Trojan, Markus Steele, was his teammate) and, as a freshmansafety, Hill made the 1998 All-Mission Conference Northern Division secondteam. He ended up with 68 tackles, eight deflections and one forced fumble.In one game alone he had 16 tackles and five deflections. More importantly,his play earned him the attention of USC, which offered him a scholarship.Though he had only one year of college under his belt, Hill felt like hewas ready to take the next step.
'I felt like I could play the game,' Hill said. 'I was ready. I hadqualified academically and I wanted to come out.'
Hill got his wish and once again became a Trojan, only this time he waswearing the Cardinal and Gold. Though he redshirted his first year at USCdue to a back injury, Hill has made the most of his opportunities in 2000,especially after the season-ending injury to senior free safety IfeanyiOhalete. Hill has stepped in and been a pleasant suprise, starting fourgames at free safety and totalling 33 tackles, two interceptions (tied forthe team lead) and four deflections.
'For me personally, getting the chance to play and start is very exciting,'Hill said. 'I feel our secondary has a great future. We have everybodycoming back next year and we're still learning, so we'll be ready to go.'
Learning how to become a smarter player seems to be something Hill hasalways been willing to do. He says that former Poly and USC safety MarkCarrier, the 1989 Thorpe Award winner, is his role model as a player,mostly because of the intelligence that Carrier brings to his position.
'I love Mark Carrier,' Hill said. 'He is just so smart. It's like heknows what the offense is going to run before they run it. I don't knowhow he does it, but my goal is to be just like him.'
Not a bad idea.
by Erin Szymanski
Sports Information Student Assistant