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Hill headed to Iowa Western, with a little help from mom

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By Travis Jenkins

As he announced his college decision Wednesday, Mike Hill had a tough time getting the words out through his tears when talking about the role his mother has played in his life. It probably marked the first time in his athletic life he ever struggled.

Hill, a three-sport athlete who has earned all-state honors in both football and basketball, signed to play on the gridiron with Iowa Western, one of the nation’s top junior college programs.

Will Mitchell, Lewisville football coach, called Hill “a heck on an athlete” and noted that he’s the only ninth grader to start on varsity for the Lions during his tenure. He became known for his big-play ability and Mitchell said he was probably the best receiver he’d ever coached when it came to “high-pointing” the ball. He was actually a running back from the time he started playing the sport up until 10th grade, when he was switched to wide receiver. The position change obviously suited him, as he racked up almost 1,800 career receiving yards, to go with 1,412 rushing yards and 39 total touchdowns during his career. This past season, he caught 41 passes for 905 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for an additional 500 yards and eight scores. He was all-state twice and made the North-South All-Star roster this past season.

Hill had several options when it came to college, but said Iowa Western was the best fit for him.

“It’s the best opportunity I have to get to the next level,” he said.

Iowa Western, located in Council Bluffs, has sent well over 100 players onto four-year colleges and won a national title in its short time of existence. The lead advisor for the football program is Dr. Tom Osborne, who won national titles at Nebraska. Mitchell said Hill is one of only six players the school is taking from outside its area.

Hill hasn’t had a chance to visit the campus in person just yet, but will head there in early summer to get a head start on classes.

Hill is blessed with natural ability, but he said it took a lot of hard work on his part to become the player he now is. He said he sees in his mind what he wants to be, then puts in the effort to make it happen.

“My thing is, I work harder than everybody,” he said. “Right up until the game starts, I work harder, then I know when the game starts I’ll beat you.”

He said he has an uncle that has always pushed him to go outside and play in an attempt to get better “in the rain, snow or sleet.” His coaches have played a big part in getting him to the point of becoming a college player. He said Mitchell pushed him hard and he encouraged younger players to trust in what Mitchell says because there will be a payoff in the end. He said Billy Keels (his baseball coach at Lewisville) helped make him tough and helped him act like a man, and that Mike McCray (basketball coach) was like his father. When it came to his mother (Ernestine Simpson), he had to pause to catch his breath, his voice cracked and he wiped away tears. As he usually does on the field, though, he finished strong.

“She’s my rock,” he said.

Hill plans to study business administration.