Nov. 28, 2012
By Tim Miguel
Josh Hill has moved around a lot.
He moved from Houston, Texas, to California when he decided to become a Golden Bear. He and the rest of the Bears had to move from Memorial Stadium to AT&T Park last season and then back to the newly-renovated Memorial Stadium this season. On top of that, Hill has played multiple positions during games, including cornerback, safety and nickel back. During much of his career he was also a special teams standout.
He has become Cal's versatile utility option on defense. Being a senior leader on the team, it's a role that Hill takes a lot of pride in.
"Nothing was too hard for me, and that's why they told me to do it," Hill said. "They knew I could handle it. It's always better to be versatile. I've always been a 'team' guy, so wherever they want me to play, I have no problem playing and learning that position. I'll do whatever I have to do. I knew that it would make me a better overall player. Having to learn three positions, I know it will help me in the long run if I make it to the NFL.
"They don't move everybody around like that. The fact that they're that comfortable with me says a lot. It really shows they have a lot of trust and faith in me. I take a lot of pride in that."
For Cal's second-year defensive backs coach Ashley Ambrose, having that option to move Hill around the field has been a huge benefit for him.
"It helps a lot," Ambrose said. "If I need to put him at corner, I can do that. If I need to put him at safety, I can do that. It's always good when you have a utility guy like that who can do all of the intangibles. He's that guy. You can put him anywhere and be happy with the decision. All you have to say is 'Go cover that guy,' and he'll know exactly what to do."
Hill said having Ambrose as his position coach, a 13-year standout defensive back in the NFL, has been instrumental in his development the past two years. The combination of defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast teaching Hill and the rest of the defense the X's and O's, while Ambrose guides the players on what they need to do to succeed in other aspects of the game has been the perfect combination for Hill to lead the defense.
Cal's leading active career and 2012 season-leading tackler, Hill said he is not surprised at the fact that he leads the Bears in both of those categories. He puts a lot of pressure on himself and leading the team in tackles was one of the lofty goals he set for himself.
"I told myself I was going to lead the team in tackles, so that doesn't surprise me," Hill said. "I've just been working hard to continue to lead the team. I put pressure on myself to keep growing and keep doing the right thing for the team. Every team needs a leader. I get more encouragement, that's a big help as well."
However, being the team guy that he is, when reflecting on his collegiate career, Hill said his favorite moment at Cal was sharing in the bowl victory his freshman season at the 2008 Emerald Bowl in San Francisco.
"The best moment for me was when we won the bowl game," Hill said. "That was my first real bowl experience. It's been fun. There have been a lot of memorable moments. I've made a lot of great relationships with the guys and the coaches, as well. It's going to be a bittersweet feeling to graduate and leave. I'm going to miss the guys and the whole environment here at Cal. It's been a great experience in the long run."
While Hill is only one player, when he leaves at the conclusion of this season, given how valuable he's been throughout the entire secondary, Ambrose will have a tough time filling the void. It will probably feel as though he's trying to replace multiple people in trying to find a replacement for Hill.