Locked In: Jamal Hill, the Human Missile

Zeke Lerner-Wood Recruiting 9 Comments

In 2018, defensive back recruits Elijah Blades and Jeremiah Criddell made the decision to decommit from the Ducks. This left the Ducks in dire need of a solid defensive back. Oregon had already received verbal commitments from two other defensive backs, Trikweze Bridges and Mykael Wright, but something was still missing from the roster. 

Then, in January of 2019, DB Jamal Hill chose Oregon over USC, Colorado, and Tennessee. Hill was a consensus 3-star recruit, coming in at the No. 38 safety in his class nationally, and the No. 44 prospect from the state of Georgia. 

Hill earned three letters on the somewhat lackluster team at Morrow High School, GA. He additionally earned All Region first-team Honors as a junior and senior, and graduated after a successful season pulling down 67 tackles, three interceptions, and 16 passes defended. Hill’s senior season earned him an invitation to the Georgia Senior Bowl Classic, where his performance garnered him a lot of attention and significantly raised his recruiting profile.

Hill is a great size for his position, standing at 6’1 and weighing 205 lbs. He’s a fantastic athlete and he demonstrates an unmatched aggression on the field when it comes to attacking the ball. In his senior season highlight reel, you can spot him locking onto ball carriers and launching himself through anything obstructing his path in order to reach his target. His combination of fearlessness and elite athleticism makes him immediately ready to make an impact on the field.

When it comes to positioning and coverage, Hill could use some growth. He has a lot of natural aggression, so he can get caught pushing too high up the field, and find other ways to get drawn out of position as well. After a year with the Ducks, he has hopefully tempered that aggression with discipline.

When it comes to style of play, Hill is definitely a defense-oriented player. While he is great at tracking a play and incapacitating the opponent, his ball skills need work. Developing his ball skills will allow him to become a more versatile back, not only a constant threat to bring players down for a loss as he is now, but also a threat to break up passes and force turnovers.

During the 2019 NCAA season, Hill saw time in every game, recording six total tackles, five which were solo, and sometimes even starting on kickoff coverage and punt returns. He had significant competition for his position as well, with Brady Breeze, Nick Pickett and Sean Kilpatrick, as well as the other redshirt freshmen all available as very viable options. It is fortunate that Hill got so much playing time in 2019, because it allowed him to gain experience in a setting where a little positioning mistake can be serious. I am looking forward to seeing him grow into his game.

The decision of where to attend school was a tight one for Hill, the finalists coming down to Oregon, USC, Colorado, and Tennessee. The Ducks’ fantastic recruiting staff once again came out on top. As Hill stated in 2019, in an article by Chad Simmons from rivals.com:

“Oregon has been on me for about two months and they have texted me every day to check on me and my mom,” said Hill. “I knew it was real when coach Donte Williams came to my house, my school and my track practice in one day. Nobody had done anything like that, so I knew it was real with them. 

“It hit me during the visit that Oregon was the right fit for me…It was definitely a family feeling. The players are great and they have one goal — to win a national championship. It is the best opportunity for me to win a championship, get a great degree and be successful after football.”

Clearly, Hill doesn’t need to work on his decision-making.

Hill has inserted himself into the Ducks roster. He demonstrated consistent ability to operate at the NCAA level in his freshman year. Although he has areas of his game that he needs to work on, I can’t wait to see how he’ll develop as 2020 continues.

What’s your outlook on the Ducks’ DB’s? 

Zeke Lerner-Wood
Eugene, OR
Top photo by Kevin Kline

Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.



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Multiple sources reporting Utah has furloughed the entire athletic department, with numerous job eliminations as well. Our Utah locals may want to expand on this. I’m not nearly as optimistic as Jon Sousa Re UO sports returning in calendar 2020.

Keeping athletes on campus and focused on their classes and athletic development will be quite a challenge for UO, even if it may be the best, and safest, pathway for them.

Mentally I’ve already moved on from seeing Hall or Lenoir play again as Ducks, and am already wondering about our next backfield with Hill, James, Bridges, Wright, Manning, transfer Williams, and perhaps Jaylen Davies of 2021 (early enrollee?) joining several other returnees.


Hall?…. You mean Holland?… Graham also.

According to the NCAA, if we play winter / spring 2021, early enrollees such as Davies (who is aiming for early enrollment, as you questioned), will not be eligible to play until a normal fall 2021 season.


Actually meant Graham; not sure what brain cramp produced Hall. I think most folks have already counted out Holland as well.

Thanks for NCAA clarification on Davies. My working assumption is that there won’t be varsity football in winter/spring 2021, but might be a traditional Spring Ball. Scott’s recent musing on a pre Jan 1 start has no mention of football specifically, and is likely to refer more to hoops.

Before Jan. 1” was bantered about, at least for basketball, but there wasn’t major urgency. Football would come in due time. The details aren’t the hurdle. This was.
Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports from media/Pac12 phone call of Sept 3.


Jon Sousa

Hope is growing (a tiny little bit) that we will actually be able to see these guys play this year.

COVID cases have gone down in Oregon each of the last three weeks. Hopefully that makes a trend.


Let’s have a trend! With the cases going down and the daily testing coming by the end of the month, it might not just be blind optimism.

To Zeke’s question about how I feel about Oregon’s DB’s? I am very pleased. Will Oregon become LBU? was asked a while back. For a long time, Oregon has produced some of the best DB’s in the conference. Several made a name for themselves in the NFL. Patrick Chung, Anthony Newman played for 12 years. TJ Ward leveled many a receiver going over the middle. Back in the day, Mel Renfro.

While Oregon is working hard at recruiting more safeties…it is nice to see another potential run-stopper is currently being groomed. It is easy to forget about these players and how Oregon won some tough recruiting battles, so thanks for the player information Zeke!

Agree, love the back story with the recruiting, “check on me and my mom,” said Hill. “I knew it was real when coach Donte Williams came to my house, my school and my track practice in one day. Nobody had done anything like that.”

It can’t be easy recruiting, but it is evident the coaches go the extra mile!


I am sure our current coaches are the same – I can’t imagine somebody working long term for Coach C who is not, but the only problem with that story is that the attributed coach is now at USC…


Thanks Zeke, for the look in at Jamal. From your write up he appears to be an integral part of the DB corps. A baller with good size, just needs to polish some parts of his game. Over aggression is something to work on, but better than not having any, a tentative DB is not going to be any help.