Homegrown: Trey Hill stands tall at the center of the Georgia offense
EDITOR’S NOTE: This original Trey Hill story continues a special series in partnership with Georgia Farm Bureau profiling homegrown talent from the state of Georgia. To access the other HomeGrown Talent articles please visit the series hub on DawgNation.com.
Trey Hill now snaps the ball to Jake Fromm at Georgia.
That’s the picture for 2019 after those two played together for two seasons at Houston County High School in Warner Robins. What are the odds of that?
The same high school program sending two players to Georgia is one thing, but what about the center and the quarterback?
Those are mighty long odds. DawgNation might not grasp that with every snap of the ball. But the man who coached them both during Fromm’s senior year and Hill’s junior year certainly does.
When Von Lassiter looks at the TV now to check out Georgia, he can’t help but smile.
“When I see Trey now I see him doing the things I always knew he could do,” Lassiter said. “I see him on the right track to living the life he has always wanted to live. I’m thankful that I can look at one spot on that TV and see two kids that I am very very proud of.”
Lassiter is humbled by that sight.
“It is just a blessing from God,” he said. “It is a blessing from God that he would see fit to coach this game that I care a lot about and then for him to entrust me with watching over and trying to help out the careers of these players that I have had.”
The real head-scratcher is there was only one time when Fromm lined up behind Hill in high school.
Cool segment coming on @DawgNation Before the Hedges at 3 PM. We'll stroll through our commitment videos and ask viewers to pick their favorite. This @hilldeontrey will definitely make it: https://t.co/wufx9L5Hh2 pic.twitter.com/8OfC2OctDR
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) September 5, 2018
A homegrown story that says a lot about Trey Hill
The first time Lassiter ever laid eyes on Hill was at an Academy Sports in Warner Robins. It was just right around the time he was entering high school.
Hill had a Macon County T-shirt on at the time. but it wasn’t long before he made the decision to move to Warner Robins and play for Lassiter at Houston County.
“The next time I saw him it was a year later and he was just at the front steps and I had gotten a call that he had just enrolled at Houston County High School,” Lassiter said. “He was coming to live with his brother and his brother was going to take him in.”
Lassiter, now leading the program at Bleckley County, knew he had a fixture for his offensive line from that moment on. Hill was already right at 6 feet, 3 inches and about 350 pounds even back then.
“Large human being and one of the biggest kids in our school when he walked in, Lassiter said. “We knew from that first day he wanted to be a great football player and had a desire and a passion about it and was in tune with what we were looking for.”
He started for three seasons at Houston County. Mostly a tackle for the Bears while Fromm was there. Well, except for that one game.
That takes things down the road of one of the best stories we can share about Hill.
Remember those long odds about the quarterback and center of the nation’s third-ranked team playing together at the same time?
They get even longer than going hunting with Fromm and him not choosing to sit in the best “hot spot” for the ideal line of fire for the birds.
Hill was only the center for Fromm for just one high school game. That was also his idea.
It came about because Houston County had to face powerful Lee County during Hill’s junior year. Fromm was a senior at the time. It was one of the biggest high school games in Georgia that fall.
Kirby Smart even showed up on the sidelines for that one.
Lee County lined up imposing 5-star DT Aubrey Solomon at the time. Hill saw that, noted that and felt that he needed to do more that week to try to check Solomon.
The coaches had been thinking about it, but it was Hill who suggested it.
“The ultimate motivation to see how much a kid wants to get better and to test himself was when he picks up the phone and tell his coach ‘I want to block the best player on the other team’ and do it as a position he had not played the whole year,” Lassiter said. “He was telling me then that he wanted to be better and that he was going good but that he could be even better and do more for us. He thought he could block him and he knew our team needed him to line up and block him.”
Hill did his job that night. Solomon made a few plays, but he wasn’t the reason why Lee County took down Houston County that night.
“Trey doesn’t say a whole lot now,” Lassiter said. “He doesn’t talk a whole lot, too. But he is a business-type player when the lights come on and when it is time to go you want to be behind him. I saw that over and over again with Trey.”
Trey Hill: How he found his way to Georgia
The Hills tried out an organic method for choosing Georgia. There was a clear acceptance he was going to be just fine playing football where ever he wound up.
It meant a lot of the normal things like depth chart and recruiter relationships and power programs were lesser issues.
Georgia had some built-in strong ties. Hill’s older brother, Derrick, played football for Valdosta State when Smart was there as a young assistant. A strong foundation of trust was established during that time.
The Hill family went about talking to the coaches at Georgia. They spoke to the current players on each team about the program. It meant they did the same for schools like Alabama and Auburn, among others.
“They all said he would be taken care of at Georgia,” his mother said on the day Trey chose Georgia. “But that was what I already knew from the time when Derrick was with Kirby at Valdosta State. He knew and we knew what kind of person and what kind of a man he was. We knew he would take care of Trey.”
The Hills then went on to interview the parents of those players. Those guys on the team would say something nice. But what would their families think?
They took another step. That was scouting out the churches in the potential campus communities for Hill.
“Our family is made up of Christians,” Lillie Hill said on the day Trey chose Georgia. “We believe the church to be the leaders and at the heart of every community. We believe if you put God first in everything you do, then everything else will fall into place.”
She found a place like that in Athens.
“It was important to me because I wanted him to have a church home,” she said. “Someone he could talk to if he was down and we were not around. A place that felt like family and Georgia was that place that felt like family all the way around.”
Family is important to Hill. Trey has three brothers and two sisters and three adopted siblings. He’s the baby out of all his biological siblings.
“In the end, I didn’t think it was close at all between Georgia and all those other schools,” she said back in December of 2017. “Georgia just felt like the spot for him to feel like he was with family.”
Another inroad in the recruiting of Trey Hill
Hill also knew former UGA All-American Roquan Smith. Those two even played together during Roquan’s senior year and Trey’s freshmen year before he moved to Houston County.
“He was like just go to the school that is best for you,” Trey Hill said on his commitment day. “He wasn’t forcing me or telling me to go to Georgia. All he said was Georgia is a great program and they will get you to where you want and need to be. I took that into consideration but that wasn’t a big factor in my decision.”
“In the end, I found other ways and I was just glad to be a Bulldog when I make my mind up.”
Trey had a stuffed reb bulldog in his crib. He played with that plush toy until he was about two years old. He then began playing football at three years of age.
“I always knew he was my special kid,” his mother Lillie Hill also said on the day he committed to Georgia. “I always knew. He was born with a special patch of white hair on his head. I always knew he was my special one. I just regard that as a sign that he is going to be something special.”
So far, he’s been up to the task.
Hill enrolled early in January of 2018. It gave him a jump on playing early during his true freshman season. He quickly flashed the skills that had him rated as the nation’s No. 3 guard on the 247Sports Composite ratings for the 2018 cycle.
He played in every game last fall, including starting the last four at right guard. His biggest moment was when he was thrust into the game as the backup center. That was during a high-stakes on the road against a surging Kentucky team.
Hill stepped in for Lamont Gaillard that afternoon. It now serves as a precursor to his 2019 season. Gaillard had big shoes to fill. He wound up starting the final 42 games of his Georgia career.
While it may seem like the Georgia faithful is quick to pick the slightest of nits with the nation’s No. 3 team, there is no outcry about a dropoff at that center spot.
That’s a credit to Hill. He even had some advice for anyone else that becomes the big-time recruit.
“Don’t believe the hype if it comes your way,” Hill said back in December of. 2017. “That hype will work against you staying grounded. Stay grounded. Do what you do. Hype will get you mixed up from making the decision that should just be your decision at the end of the day.”
Homegrown: The next level for Trey Hill at UGA
Hill had a set of clear goals on the day he committed to Georgia.
“I look forward to coming in and working my tail off and starting as a freshman,” he said. “Then I hope to keep spending three or four years at Georgia working my tail off and then going to the NFL. Those are my dreams as of right now.”
“I’ve very excited about all of this. This is my next step forward.”
Hill was weighing right at 360 pounds when he was at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio. That was his last stop before becoming a Bulldog.
He knew that wasn’t going to fulfill that freshmen year goal. He had a clear target set in front of him to reduce that weight down to approximately 330 pounds in order to have a chance to play as a freshman.
Hill did. And then he did.
Smart recently shared his thoughts on what it will take for Hill to keep better at Georgia. He wants all of his players to focus on that “do more” mantra for 2019, but especially big trench guys like Jordan Davis and Hill.
He wants those guys to strain their considerable natural gifts on every rep.
“It means when you strain on a play and you block a guy, I want you to do it longer and harder,” Smart said this fall. “So if you do it for four seconds, I want you to do it for five, for six. If you do it for seven, I want you to do it for eight, for nine. I want you to do it until the echo of the whistle. That’s harder and longer. That’s for every player on the team, not just Trey Hill. Jake Fromm, I want him to strain harder and longer to make it perfect.”
Hill has also worked to improve on his snaps.
“He still has high ones in practice,” Smart said. “He has thousands of snaps out there. I don’t think you can be thousand-for-a thousand. So I think he has to continue to improve on his snaps and the pace of the snaps. But (knocking on wood) he’s done a good job so far. And going into the environment he did at Kentucky I thought he did an incredible job. But he continues to grow and get better. He’s a guy, he’ll tell you, he needs fire and motivation under him because it’s come easy to him. He’s very talented, he’s athletic. But his brother will tell you, both his brothers will tell you, his father will tell you, he needs a fire lit under him to motivate him sometimes. Because he’s athletic.”
Hill has shown himself more than willing and able to deal with those fires. That goes back to that high school game against Lee County.
Georgia’s Homegrown Talent: The DawgNation series
- Homegrown: The twists and turns in Quay Walker’s road to UGA
- Homegrown: Impressive sophomore CB Eric Stokes is more like “UGA grown”
- Charlie Woerner: Homegrown from a Bulldog family
- Jake Fromm: From the Little League World Series to duck holes to the face of a program
- Andrew Thomas develops quickly into a hometown here at UGA
- Warren McClendon: Family roots run 44 years deep for this Georgia family
- D.J. Daniel: Likely impact defensive back took a longer route to Athens
- Travon Walker: Expect big things on the line from 5-star freshman
- Dominick Blaylock: Talented freshman WR found a homegrown fit in Athens
- Nolan Smith: From “Baby Boy” to a long-awaited Bulldog in Athens