Jan. 16, 1998

MSU's Ray Hill Sets His Sights on the NFL

Ray Hill
Ray Hill set a school record with 16 pass break-ups in 1997.

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State senior cornerback Ray Hill has declared himself eligible for the National Football League Draft April 18-19.

Hill, a three-year starter for the Spartans at right cornerback, had hoped to return for a fifth season in 1998 by earning his undergraduate degree by August. A partial qualifier coming out of high school, Hill needed to successfully complete 34 credit hours to graduate before petitioning the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility.

"I know Ray Hill really wanted to return for a fifth year but this is a sound decision," MSU head coach Nick Saban said. "Ray had an outstanding season and I'm sure a number of NFL clubs will give him a serious look.

"I still think it's unfortunate that players like Ray are held to a higher academic standard. Most student-athletes are expected to complete their degrees in five years but partial qualifiers are expected to complete the same work load in four years. These young men are penalized twice, on the front end by sitting out a year and losing a season of eligibility and on the back end if they can't earn a degree in four years."

Hill has enrolled at Michigan State for the spring semester and intends to earn his diploma by the spring of '99.

A second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media in 1997, Hill recorded 68 tackles (42 solos, 26 assists) and intercepted four passes. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder set a Spartan single-season record with 16 pass break-ups. He produced a career-high 12 tackles and an interception in Michigan State's 23-7 victory over Notre Dame.

Hill has been invited to attend the NFL's Combine Feb. 5-9 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.