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2016 National Signing Day: Armed Forces member makes his way to ASU

Christian Petersen/Getty

One of the more interesting things about National Signing Day is learning about recruits’ backgrounds and personal stories, and new Arizona State defensive end Christian Hill has one you don’t hear often.

The No. 11 JUCO prospect in the country according to ESPN, Hill comes to Arizona State by way of Glendale Community College, where he racked up eight sacks in 10 games as a freshman before an injury-riddled sophomore campaign limited him to one sack in six games.

But rankings and stats only tell a small part of why Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is excited to have him on board – Hill has four years of service in the Air Force under his belt, having worked on emergency equipment in aircraft at McChord Air Force Base in Washington and traveled to the Middle East, Korea and Germany (Doug Haller has a great story on Hill from June 2015 that I suggest you read).

“You talk about 'embodies what we’re about' – this guy is integrity, character, toughness, physicality,” Graham said at a press conference Wednesday. “We’ve had guys here in the past that have been a part of the Armed Forces, and I’m really honored to have him on our football team. He’s going to do great things.”

Of course, one of those former Sun Devils Graham is alluding to is the late Pat Tillman, who went on to play four years in the NFL before enlisting in the United States Army and dying in combat.

One thing Armed Forces servicemen and women have in common, outside of all the traits that come along with the courage and toughness it takes to make it in that field, is a strong handshake. In the case of Hill, that handshake might be too strong.

“He almost dislocated my shoulder when I shook hands with him,” Graham said. 

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