- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 14, 2002

HOUSTON Although Charles Hill might be on the verge of starting for the expansion Houston Texans as a rookie, the 21-year-old nose tackle is still a late bloomer.
The Palmer Park native didn't play organized football until his junior year at Eleanor Roosevelt High School but still earned scholarship offers from Maryland, N.C.State and West Virginia in 1998. Hill didn't become a regular with the Terrapins until the end of his sophomore year and didn't become a standout until his senior year, but he was still taken by the Texans in the third round of April's draft.
"I figured if I played well as a senior, I had the ability to go to the next level," said Hill, who nearly doubled his 2000 output with 81 tackles for the ACC champion Terps last year. "[Tampa Bay defensive tackle] Warren Sapp and [Philadelphias] Corey Simon have my stocky body type. I just had to put on a little more weight. I weighed 275 as a junior, but I played at 293 last year, and my strength increased. I got an offer from the East-West game midway through the season, so I knew people were noticing me. And then I got invited late to the Senior Bowl and the [scouting] combine."
Because he had only six sacks at Maryland, some NFL teams might have shied away from Hill, but he fits Houston's 3-4 scheme, especially now that he packs 320 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame.
"If you're a 4-3 team, you're not going to rate Charles as high as we did because he's not going to be an up-the-field pass rusher," Texans general manager Charley Casserly said. "Charles is a nose tackle, a clog-up-the-middle guy, which is what we want. He's a good worker, and he graded out on the Wachs [intelligence] test higher than any defensive lineman in the 15 years I've been using the test."
Hill earned an economics degree in four years in College Park. Veteran defensive lineman Gary Walker said that intelligence carries over to the field.
"Charles might make technique errors, but he doesn't make many mental mistakes," Walker said.
Added strength coach Dan Riley: "Charles pays attention to detail. You tell him something once, and he does it right. He's very mature for a guy who's only 21."
Hill is in a battle for the starting job with ex-Redskin Jerry De Loach, who had only 11 tackles last season despite playing in 11 games and starting four.
"This is a great opportunity," Hill said. "I'm working as hard as I can to speed up my learning curve. I'll master it eventually. I have the ability to play in this league. The offensive linemen are quicker and have better technique than the ones I faced at Maryland, but I get natural leverage because I'm shorter than most of the blockers I face."

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