DE Trevon Hill's Technique and "Bend" Pop off of Highlight Film

Tech's newest 2015 verbal commitment uses technique, leverage, separation, and "bend" to play through blockers and make tackles.

Hill supermanning a play in the backfield.

On Saturday, defensive end Trevon Hill verbally committed to Virginia Tech. Defensive end is a critical need position depth wise for the 2015 class as Ken Ekanem, Dewayne Alford, and Seth Dooley are the only current defensive ends that will have eligibility in 2016. Hill, ranked as the No. 17 prospect in the Commonwealth of Virginia by the 247Sports Composite, was an all-state selection after posting 23 sacks as a junior for Salem High School in Virginia Beach. His selection of the Hokies over ACC rivals North Carolina could be a crucial turning point in what has been a slow recruiting cycle so far for Virginia Tech.

After reading that Hill was 6-4, 220, and had 23 sacks, I fully expected that Hill would be a speed rushing weak side defensive end that would use quickness to beat offensive tackles around the blind side. I was wrong in that assumption. He looks and plays like a bigger player on tape, and he is strong at the point of attack. Salem played a 3-4 defensive alignment, with Hill often aligning on the outside eye of the left offensive tackle as a five-technique end. That means instead of aligning angled and speed rushing outside of the tackle, Hill often found himself chest-to-chest working through blocks. Against spread formations and in obvious passing situations, he used more speed in space, but his straight-line speed didn't jump out on film. In fact, it is an area where he needs to improve. With that said, his technique and "bend" in his body in tight spaces allow Hill to change direction and find the football. That technique and bend makes Hill a promising prospect.

That "bend" really goes on display in pass rushing situations. Hill excels at getting into the body of the blocker, creating a leverage advantage, and then bending his body to angle into the quarterback. One of the biggest weaknesses (highlighted primarily against Maryland and UCLA) of the 2013 defensive end group was running past the pocket after gaining an initial advantage over the blocker. This created extra space which allowed the quarterback to have wide running lanes.

Hill doesn't run upfield and take a wide path to get around blocks. Instead, he collapses the pocket then takes the shortest path to the ball. He does this by quickly defeating the block through getting separation, using leverage technique, and then bending his body to turn the corner around the blocker.

Here, Salem is in their base 3-4, but Hill widens out to a 7-technique in an obvious passing situation.

Hill is quick off the snap and gets the left tackle turned to the sideline with a push through his outside shoulder. Hill then drops his hips, lowers his left shoulder, and bends underneath the block to turn into the pocket.

In the still below you can see how Hill's legs are outside of where his upper body is.

This is tremendous body control. You also should note that Hill's angle is in front, not behind the quarterback, but Hill retains outside shoulder leverage to contain the quarterback in the pocket. Once Hill turns the corner, he has long reach to wrap up the quarterback and put him on the ground.

On this next play, Hill uses a rip technique. A rip involves dropping your shoulder and then ripping your arm like a vicious uppercut underneath the shoulder of the blocker. Hill aligns as a five-technique on outside eye of the tackle.

He again gets off well on the snap, and then rips under the outside shoulder of the tackle. Most impressively, after the rip his momentum is going to the sideline, but he changes direction quickly and sharply turns the corner to collapse the pocket for the sack. Again, note that Hill is never BEHIND the quarterback. This is critical against mobile quarterbacks.

While most of Hill's high school film highlights him aligned over the left tackle, his excellent technique against the run leads me to believe that he will play over the right tackle as a "stud" end for the Hokies. Aligned over the right tackle, the stud usually is aligned against the strong side of the offense, and Bud Foster's defensive ends regularly slant into the outside gap, maintain a gap fit at the point of attack when aligned to the strong side. Also, Coach Wiles has often emphasized that he doesn't just want his defensive linemen to maintain their gap fit. He wants them to achieve their fit and then shed blocks and make plays. Hill has tremendous ability to fit his gap, create space so he can find the football, and then get off the block to make a tackle.

Let's see how Hill moves laterally and gap fits in Salem's base defense.

Salem's opponent runs a wham play, where they zone block to the play side and then pull a back side guard to gain a numerical advantage. Hill reads the zone block and crosses the face of the tackle to fit the outside gap as is his assignment. He gets great extension which delivers a blow to the blocker. This creates the space needed for Hill to see the football and shed the block. Hill recognizes that the back is cutting inside the tackle's block, so he redirects back to the inside and makes a solid tackle in the hole.

Hill plays beautiful leverage. He doesn't just defeat blockers with superior athleticism like most elite defensive line prospects, but uses his technique to gain the advantage and then uses his athleticism to finish the play. Here, Salem's opponents run a power lead at Hill from a Wing-T formation.

At the snap, Hill reads the down block of the tackle and crosses the tackle's face to the inside. At contact, Hill has perfect position. He is underneath the tackle's pads, extends his arms and stops the blocker's forward momentum. He keeps his feet active, and his extension allows him to read the play flowing back to the outside. Hill sheds back outside off the block and meets the back in the hole to make the tackle. Few outside of a defensive line coach would appreciate how solid Hill's technique is on this play.

Hill is a productive defensive end prospect who looks and plays bigger than his listed size. His technique, length, and nose for the football stand out as strengths. He doesn't have elite straight-line speed (as you can see on his highlights where he is pursuing the play over a longer distance), and he will need to add lower body strength to maintain his gap fits against Division I blockers. With defensive end depth a major concern, Hill has an opportunity to compete for a spot in the two-deep at stud end almost immediately if he can add the necessary strength and demonstrate comfort in Foster's gap fit system.

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Comments

Great job French, he will be an awesome player to watch in the future!

Great get but Tech needs more DE.

Definitely lessens the blow of losing Kevin Bronson. Looks like he has a bright future in Maroon&Orange!

Very nice analysis, excited & looking foreward to see him in ALL MAROON!

georgebd

I like the fact that he looks very comfortable playing inside or outside. A lot of DEs really gravitate to that position because they like keeping all of the action (aside from crackbacks, which you learn to anticipate pretty quickly) on one side of them. Getting down and dirty inside with guys coming from all directions and getting into your legs is a game not many want to play (raising hand here).
Also (and I am new and treading lightly, but here it comes)...
I see things a bit differently in that last clip (the 4th and 2). I watched it over and over, and it is difficult to see with the film speed, but it looks to me like Hill was crashing down at the snap, not reading the block. He may even be part one of a twist with the safety that had snuck up and appeared to be drifting to fill the area Hill initially vacated. It was 4th an 2, and the D was in a sellout mode, totally buying into a run play, as demonstrated by the behavior of the DBs - up tight and disregarding the receivers.
I LOVE the way Hill got back to make the play - because I think he was assigned to crash inside (wrong call by the coach), and made an awesome recovery to save the day.
But...(and here is where I'm going to get brave) I always like (and taught) kids to get their heads across the front of a ball carrier when coming to make the tackle from and angle like that. It is safer, but also much more effective, as the RB has to go through your head and upper body. Getting you head behind the RB essentially defines an arm tackle, and the effort is almost always shed by good backs, and is guaranteed a minimum of an extra yard or two by most.
The second thing I noticed was his knee going to the ground right around contact with the back. It's a bit of a nitpick maybe, but I tried to get guys to wrap and drive to make the ballcarrier go down first - under you and all of your weight. When you slide down at contact, you lose your legs, your drive, and your weight. You can make the tackle, but the back gets extra yardage many times.
I realize it, it was a great play by Hill to even get in on the tackle in that clip, but if he could have kept his feet a little better and gotten his head in front, that back would have been stopped nowhere near the first down.

A picture is worth a thousand words. A gif is worth a million.

From what I have seen, at least 95% of the time, differing opinions and analysis are always welcome at TKP. Unless it is a political issue (or recruiting issue). That is the nice thing about this site. Thank you for offering your perspective to those of us who are still newbies in the game.

I'm so happy that Hill committed because VT needs DE's and it also yielded more French analysis.
More commits means more knowledge.

Tweedy can run like a dadgum antelope or whatever. I like to use scalded dog. Do antelopes lumber? Cheetah, OK. He runs like a cheetah. He's fast. - Bud Foster

Glad it is also a guy that te coaches really wanted.....from how he was recruiting. He isn't just a nice guy to have but someone the coaches obviously believe can make an impact on the defense. Looking forward to seeing him play in the next few years.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

Exactly. I don't think this is a guy they settled for. Frank went to his game last fall. Therefore, the coaches wanted him no matter where other recruits went.

You mean he could play Quarterback!!??!?

My favorite highlight that doesn't involve Hills is at about 3:25, when the opposing team's QB is about to try and take the snap from the guard, if not for the guard grabbing his hand and pulling him over towards the center.
I want to see a gif of that.

He's trying to get away from Hill.

Bucky Hodges is open

LOL, good catch.

Danny caught that ball.

Friends don't let 5 star friends commit to UVA.

I have inside info. - Whit

Thanks French! With the lack of commitments has comes the lack of film analysis, and we've all missed that. Nice to get back on track!

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.