Jaylen Hill touts potential to be an elite tackle prospect

Published 11:07 am Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Every industry in the world is looking for the next big thing. Football, mainly the recruiting industry, is no different. Lanett High School might just have the next big thing with Jaylen Hill, with big being the operative word. 

Hill is listed at six-foot-five and 285 lbs. He started at tackle last season for the Panthers as a freshman and is expected to be the leader for Lanett’s offensive and defensive line this season. 

Hill has already looked like a dominant force on the high school level, and his size projects him to be a starter at some point at the collegiate level. Hill looks every bit as dominant as his play suggests, but that does not negate the challenges he has faced early on. 

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Lanett’s team was extremely young last season, and that meant that Hill had to be thrust into a starting role. The terminology and play complexity at the high school level were vastly different. On top of all that, he also had to deal with all the added pressure that came with starting at a school that has been known for touting dominant linemen. 

“There was a lot of pressure, especially because I was starting,” Hill said. “It was a lot different coming from junior high. A lot of pressure, but I made it through.” 

Hill overcame all the obstacles in his way as a freshman. Now, he expects to see a big jump as a sophomore. 

Hill has been working all summer on his blocking technique, conditioning and strength in the weight room. He believes that every facet of his game has improved and his confidence has grown along the way. 

“I hope to see way more improvement from last year,” Hill said. “Last year, I was getting a feel for varsity and starting. I didn’t think I was the best. I’m getting there, especially this offseason.” 

Hill overcame challenges in his freshman season through determination, but he also had a lot of help along the way. One of his biggest supporters throughout the process has been Lanett’s offensive line coach Branqavious Bussey. 

Bussey has been through the process as a graduate of Lanett. Bussey went on to play at Jacksonville State, and he has taken Hill under his wing over the past year. 

Even as a freshman, Hill has already had schools like Southern Miss and Auburn University stop by to ask about him and begin the recruiting process. Bussey saw a similar process during his time at Lanett, and he has been Hill’s biggest adviser. 

“He’s been preparing me for it,” Hill said. “He doesn’t skip days. He’s there for me and most of the O-line. He pushes me in the weight room. We go on off days to the field and work on offensive line and defensive line stuff. He’s a good coach, good person.” 

Bussey has taken a special interest in Hill because he sees the potential, but he is far from the only coach to take an interest in Hill’s progression. Every coach at Lanett has already begun to see the blueprint for what Hill could be. 

RJ McDonald was hired as Lanett’s football coach in May after serving as the team’s offensive coordinator for three seasons. Hill and McDonald built a special relationship in just one season, and it has only continued to blossom with McDonald now leading the program. 

“Last year, he taught me a lot,” Hill said. “We have a good relationship I think. He’s talked to me about colleges and how if I stay on track I can be somebody someday.” 

With his head coach and position coach expecting big things from him, Hill has every reason to put the extra work in. He has been one of Lanett’s hardest workers throughout the summer as he wants nothing more than to prove his believers right. 

“It definitely drives me,” Hill said. “I want to make it out of Lanett, make them proud.” 

Hill is not the most vocal person on Lanett’s roster, but he has been thrust into a leadership position. He will be one of the more experienced players on Lanett’s line this season. 

Hill is learning how to be more vocal this offseason because the position group needs him to step into that role. It’s definitely a learning process for him, but Hill is ready to lead the Panthers at the line of scrimmage in 2024. 

“There aren’t a lot of seniors on the O-line,” Hill said. “It’s definitely on me this season to try to get these boys to work and be efficient.” 

“I definitely had to try to learn it,” Hill added. “I had a lot of leaders in my life who I’ve followed.”