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Hill having 'best year' at Southern



 SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Carson Hill said this has been the best year of his life since his senior year at Baldwin County High School.

Hill is a senior cornerback at Georgia Southern, and he was a big part of the defense the Eagles rode into the FCS semifinals with Saturday’s 23-20 win over Wofford.

Georgia Southern’s football team left Statesboro early Friday morning to bus here for its game with the Terriers.

While the Eagles were rolling up the highway graduation ceremonies at Georgia Southern were being held at Hanner Field House.

However, that did not deter three players and a team manager from being handed their diplomas by Dr. Brooks Keel.

In a ceremony held at the team hotel Friday Carson Hill, reserve Lee Banks and backup linebacker Calvin West along with team manager Philip Bailey got their diplomas from Keel.

Keel wore his full academic regalia and the players wore the traditional cap and gown.

For Hill it was especially poignant because he was forced to sit out the 2009 season due to academic problems.

"That was my fault," Hill said of his problems of a season ago. "I messed up, and I let a lot of people down."

"It seems like everything has fallen into place this year," Hill said. "I was ineligible last year, and then we had new coaches come in and they didn’t know me.

"Coach (Jeff) Monken gave me a second chance," Hill said. "He gave a lot of guys second chances for that matter. But, he made me make a pact with him: I had to promise him I would graduate in December, and he promised me he would do everything he could to help me reach that goal."

Hill had special words for Coach Jeff Monken and Keel saying of the graduation ceremony, "it tells you how much Coach Monken and Dr. Keel care about us not just as athletes, bur about our well being.

"It (graduating) meant a lot to me," Hill said. "I would have liked to walk across the stage, but winning this game today meant a lot, too."

Hill’s senior year at Baldwin County saw the Braves lose to Northside at the Georgia Dome in the fourth round of the playoffs, a game which still rankles Hill.

Now, he finds himself playing in the fourth round of the playoffs again, albeit on a bigger stage, as the Eagles will face No. 3 seed Delaware either Friday night or Saturday afternoon at Newark, Del.

This season has been quite a comeback for Hill and the Eagles. And, Wofford, too, for that matter.

Georgia Southern was picked in the pre-season to finish seventh in the SoCon, and Wofford was sixth.

Hill, in the meantime, found himself playing for his third head coach and third coordinator in his five years at Georgia Southern.

"I never thought I’d see this (being in the semis)," Hill said. "Not after my freshman year. All of the coaching changes, and everything else."

Hill started as a freshman for then coach Brian Van Gorder who after a 3-8 season left without warning.

Then came the three years with Hatcher, one of them spent in the stands as he could not be on the sidelines with his teammates.

Now like all newly minted college graduates Hill wants to find a job. However, he would like to tell potential employers he will not be available to begin work until after Jan. 7.


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