New Wisconsin Badgers‘ head coach Gary Andersen inherited a team that has depth at several key positions. One place where it’s thin in 2013, however, is in the secondary, where they will need some backups from last year to step up in a big way. Will Darius Hillary be able to answer that call?
Three of four starters in the secondary last season are gone this year due to graduation, including their top two corners. Hillary appeared in all 14 games last season as a freshman, primarily as the team’s nickel corner, so he looks the most prepared to take the next step into starting next fall.
In 2012, he recorded 23 tackles and two pass breakups and looked solid for long stretches of the season. He also had some rough moments, like when he gave up the touchdown that ended up losing the game in overtime against the Michigan State Spartans. For the most part, however, Hillary held his own and got valuable experience that will help him succeed as one of the starting corners.
This spring, Hillary has been taking reps as the No. 1 corner next to junior Peniel Jean, who appeared in just five games last season due to injuries. The Badgers also addressed their need for secondary help in recruiting this year, signing JUCO transfer Donnell Vercher, who will join the team this summer.
Hillary, who can play both corner and safety, has the opportunity to step up and make a major impact for years to come in the Wisconsin secondary. Without a whole lot behind him to fall back on, Gary Andersen’s staff will push him hard this spring to prepare him to carry the load next fall as Wisconsin attempts to once again defend their Big Ten title.