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DT Hill motors through injury to power PSU line

DT Hill motors through injury to power PSU line

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Laid back and unassuming, Jordan Hill could easily blend in with the thousands of other students on the Penn State campus on a normal class day.

Make no mistake, the senior stands out on the football field. Not even a sore left knee can slow down the defensive tackle known for his relentless motor.

Catch him most any other time, and he's more apt to blend in with the crowd. He flashed a friendly smile after taking a well-earned break on the couch of the football team's lounge before a recent practice this week.

``I don't think about it as me not wanting to stop,'' Hill said. ``But I don't want to lose. For me to win, I have to play the best I can each and every play.''

A left knee injury two weeks ago during the 34-9 win at Purdue left Penn State fans wondering how long one of the team's respected senior leaders would be out of the lineup - if he returned at all. Hill was carted off the field.

A week later, he was back.

Entering this Saturday's game against Indiana, Hill is fourth on the team with 50 tackles, including five for losses and 2 1/2 sacks. He has an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

The Hoosiers defense might be struggling after losing 62-14 last week to Wisconsin, but they have a tough lineman of their own in senior Adam Replogle, who leads conference defensive tackles with 62 stops.

``He's a quality player, great off the field,'' Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said of Replogle. ``He's helped set a standard of how we want to improve.''

Hill, too, is a standard-bearer for Penn State.

Perhaps more importantly to coach Bill O'Brien's defense is that Hill consistently draws double teams that help free up other linemen and occupy potential blockers. It also helps the veteran linebacking crew Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges and Glenn Carson can make big plays - which made his status for last week's Nebraska game a big question mark.

Hill admitted he was in nagging pain during pregame warm-ups.

``I was hurting,'' Hill said. ``I looked bad moving around.''

He didn't start in the 32-23 loss, but Hill did play in the first half. Then his replacement, James Terry, also went down a leg injury and didn't return. Hill knew what he had to do in the second half.

``When James went down I said, `All right, I've got to go,'' he said this week, wearing sweats while relaxing in a chair with legs outstretched. There appeared to be no brace on the left knee.

Hill also wasn't wearing a brace during a 25-minute session of practice open to media Wednesday, when he looked limber taking part in stretches but was held out of drills.

Hill said he hasn't been limited this week. And even if he's hurting, he may not be the kind of player who divulges just how much pain he's in.

``When the younger guys are looking around, I can't be one of the guys panicking at all, no matter the situation,'' Hill said. ``Even if I don't know what's going to happen, I still have to be calm.''

His easy-going personality is the influence of his father, Larry, while growing up in the blue-collar Harrisburg suburb of Steelton, he said. Mostly playing baseball and basketball growing up, Hill picked up football in seventh grade also at the encouragement of his father.

The competitive edge was honed, in part, around pick-up games of basketball. Hill's cousin, Bucknell's 6-foot-3 junior point guard Ryan Hill, remembers one instance when Hill, teamed up with Ryan Hill's brother, Lloyd, on the local YMCA basketball court during a snow day.

Jordan set up the teams. Back then, Ryan Hill says he was a skinny 5 foot, 7 inches, and joined in the two-on-two game with a friend who also less than 6 feet. Jordan and Lloyd Hill, who is now an offensive lineman at St. Francis, Pa., both stood at 6-foot-2, Ryan Hill said.

``I felt the game was unfair because Lloyd and Jordan were on the same team,'' Ryan Hill said. In the end though, it turned out to be a lesson, too from his cousin.

``He said, `You just have to get the job done,'' Ryan Hill recalled.

It was no surprise to the family when Hill stuck with Penn State in July after the NCAA levied its strict sanctions on the program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The day fellow seniors Michael Zordich and Mauti gave an impassioned statement with about two dozen other players that they were staying at Penn State, Hill was on the golf course - where he was working as an intern. He was getting breakfast at a concession stand when he looked up at a TV to find Zordich and Mauti speaking.

``I didn't know what was going on,'' Hill said with a chuckle.

Hill said he would have been there, too, if he didn't have the internship.

``When I had my (preseason) meeting with Coach O'Brien,'' he said, ``I told him the only way I'd leave this program is if there wasn't going to be any more football.''

That wasn't the case, of course, and Penn State has had a better-than-expected season in part because of Hill and the talented defense.

``I'm playing next to one of the toughest, fastest and best defensive tackles I've ever seen play,'' said redshirt freshman Deion Barnes, who has emerged at defensive end this season. ``Playing through injury and adversity, he's probably one of the best players I've ever played next to.''

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Follow Genaro Armas athttp://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

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NBC Sports Washington

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 25, 62 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Trades, misses and mistakes explain Redskins' dead cap—This post does a good job of outlining where the Redskins’ dead cap came from. It should be noted that dead cap is a part of the cost of doing business in the NFL and the Redskins have done fairly well managing it this year. Only about a dozen teams have less dead cap on the books than the Redskins $5.2 million. 

Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins—I received some comments saying that my worst-case scenario, a 6-10 finish, is not low enough. Since we’re talking about events that won’t begin to happen for about three and a half months, I can’t really argue with them. But it’s just hard for me to see them dropping more than a game from last year when they were hit harder with injuries than any other team in the NFL. 

Pre-OTAs Redskins player one-liners, defense—An extension for Matt Ioannidis seemed preposterous a year ago, now it seems like a good idea. How many sacks for Lanier? When will Ryan Anderson get his first sack? Plus offensive player one-liners here

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp—You can’t tell everything from OTAs, but you can tell some things. Taking another look at this post, I gave a good, detailed look at the session, but I didn’t really mention the overall feel, which was fun and energetic. 

Tweet of the week

Certainly, Derrius Guice is the fan favorite of the rookie class. But the great reaction to this tweet shows that there is plenty of love for Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, last year’s top pick. 

In 2016, the starting defensive line consisted of Ricky Jean Francois, Chris Baker, and  Ziggy Hood. The top reserve was Cullen Jenkins. They all had their good qualities and made some plays. But Baker was the youngster of the group and he turned 30 during the season. It clearly was a group on the decline. 

Two years later, the picture is quite different. Payne and Allen lead a younger group that will get better over the next few years. Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Tim Settle, and Stacy McGee should round out the group. McGee is by far the senior member of the group at age 28. None of the others have celebrated his 25thbirthday yet. 

Fans should perhaps temper their optimism with the knowledge that potential doesn’t always develop into performance. But unlike years past there is something to look forward to. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 18
—Training camp starts (7/26) 62
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 76

The Redskins last played a game 145 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 107 days. 

In case you missed it

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