- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2001

Halfway through his freshman season in 1998, Maryland Terrapin nose tackle Charles Hill realized he was taking a beating in the trenches. His 6-foot-2, 240-pound frame had held up fine in his two years of high school football, but he knew he would have to put on some weight and learn the intricacies of the position quickly to have an impact.
Hill bulked up so much so that some teammates now kiddingly call him "Fat Chuck" and learned from good tutors. His predecessors at nose tackle, Kris Jenkins and Delbert Cowsette, both were drafted and now play in the NFL. And he went against the best, too, in facing good friend Melvin Fowler, named the All-ACC first-team center this season, in practice the last couple years.
Hill, a senior, worked his way to becoming the Terps' second-leading tackler this season behind all-everything linebacker E.J. Henderson. While Henderson became the most recognizable name and face of the defense, players like Hill stood up blockers so Henderson could roam free and deliver hits.
"I thought one of the reasons E.J. had such a great year was Charles played so well," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "And he's really unheralded. He doesn't say a whole lot, he does his job, played with a lot of pride."
Hill anchored the Maryland defensive front with the authority that Jenkins and Cowsette (now with the Redskins) had before him, though they were different players; Jenkins won battles on the line with his brute strength, while Cowsette was a smaller, quicker lineman. Hill, who has added about 50 pounds since his freshman year, has done his best to combine the best attributes of his mentors.
"Over the years here, I tried to pick up a little bit from everybody," Hill said. "From Del, quickness in his vision and seeing blocks. He sees plays develop so quick. … Kris, he just overpowered blocks. This year, I tried to do both attack the man and read the blocking scheme."
Hill spoke with Jenkins, now with the Carolina Panthers, several times during the season, and pestered him about what things were like at the next level the blocking schemes, the intensity of the play.
"Every time I [talked to him], he'd always ask a lot of questions of me," Jenkins said. "I'm glad he's doing that, but I don't want him to take my job."
Hill's desire to ascertain as much about his position as possible is a product of the steep learning curve he faced as a young player. He played only two years of high school football the football coach at Greenbelt's Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded him to play football after seeing him on the basketball court and lifted weights in high school for just a year. If he hadn't stopped growing at 6-2, he might not have played football after high school at all.
As a freshman at Maryland, Hill got a good deal of playing time, and was forced to grow into his position very quickly. Because Hill wasn't quite as physically prepared as he should have been, he had to improvise to get off blocks and make plays. But looking back, Hill said the trial by fire worked out for him, because he learned quickly, much more so than if he had been brought along more slowly.
The mental game takes on another element off the field, where Fowler and Hill butt heads over a chess board. Fowler picked up the game as a freshman and has since drawn some teammates into playing, including Hill. The two go back and forth on who holds the upper hand in their matchups.
"In chess, you're always thinking moves ahead and what your opponent's going to do, and you do the same thing in football you wonder what your opponent's going to do, what can he do on this play from what I'm doing you have to think about that," Fowler said. "It's the same thing in chess, and I think that definitely correlates."
Hill has aspirations to follow Cowsette and Jenkins to the pros, and he, too, will leave another void in the heart of the defensive line. It's one the Maryland coaches won't look forward to filling.
"I can't say enough about the kid as far as his character," said defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo. "He's a team guy that comes to practice every day, works his butt off, does exactly what he has to do with a great attitude and has a great deal of pride … he's just a guy you dream to coach."
Said Friedgen: "We're going to miss him. I don't know if there's anybody in the program who can play as well as he did at nose guard."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide