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    He's come a long way

    St. George native, NFL standout
    Hill stresses education at banquet

    By BRIAN LINDER
    T&D Sports Writer
    Saturday, May 19, 2007

    BOWMAN -- One of Troy Johnson's first moves as a coach certainly wasn't his best.

    He was the running backs coach of a midget football team in St. George when his cousin came looking to get a few carries. He told him he wasn't good enough to play the position.

    Friday night, Johnson took a picture with that cousin -- Tye Hill -- at the Bethune-Bowman Athletic Banquet. That's Tye Hill as in the Tye Hill that played for the Clemson Tigers, was an NFL first-round draft choice and is currently a starting cornerback for the St. Louis Rams.

    Thinking back on that time, Johnson, the Bethune-Bowman boys basketball coach, smiled widely.

    "We thought he was too small and too slow," said Johnson. "We told him he wasn't good enough. We put him on the defensive side. It's funny ... well, actually he worked really hard. That was his motivation."

    And, no grudges were held. So, when Johnson asked Hill to speak at Bethune-Bowman's athletic banquet, the star player hopped on a plane.

    "I talk to Tye all the time, and I asked him -- being from St. George -- he's from a small town just like Bowman," Johnson said. "He said he'd come, and he did come down here and do me a big favor."

    After dinner Friday, Hill took to the stage and shared his story with the several hundred athletes, parents, teachers and school officials assembled at the event. He told of how he came from St. George, earned a college degree and moved on to the NFL.

    "When you go to school your number one goal is to graduate," he said. "You can't go to school four or five years and not graduate. That's just a waste of time."

    The speech emphasized education. It wasn't the last time academics were stressed over athletics. Bethune-Bowman football coach Robert Hemby talked about trying to send his boys off to school, and Johnson closed the night by saying there is no such thing as an athlete without academics. In between, the Mohawk coaches honored the accomplishments of their student athletes.

    "One thing that we always try to preach to our athletes -- male and female -- is that academics are a corner stone of our society," said Hemby. "If you have any ambitions of going on to college or whatever, you have to have some type of knowledge between your ears. That is one thing that I think every head coach here at Behtune-Bowman along with every principle, that is one thing we teach ... academics come first."

    After the banquet, Hill hung around and signed autographs for those in attendance. It was a warm reception, and one that he said he is growing used to.

    "Every time I come home, everyone opens their hands up with love," he said. "And, they show their appreciation for what I have done in this area."


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    Country's Avatar
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    Re: He's come a long way

    I am very excited about Tye Hill, he is developing into a very good CB and he does not have the diva attitude that so many do.

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