Draft Scout Snapshot: A closer look at the Broncos' picks: Round 3/67 -- Ronnie Hillman, RB, 5-9, 200, San Diego State...Denver traded up to take Hillman, dealing its fourth-round pick (No. 120 overall) to move up 20 slots for the speedy back, who is expected to split time with incumbent Willis McGahee and could push out Knowshon Moreno. - The Sports Xchange
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Ronnie Hillman signed with San Diego State as a lightly recruited prep prospect. He leaves having broken Marshall Faulk's freshman record for most rushing yards in a season (1,532) and followed that up with a 1,711 yard campaign set earned him All-American honors and broke the WAC single-season record. He rushed for over 100 yards in six games in 2011. In each of the six, he rushed for over 150. He finished the season fifth in the country with an average of 131.62 yards per game and scored 20 touchdowns.
If Hillman did not receive the fanfare one might expect for a back with his staggering production you can blame the fact some scouts never saw Hillman coming. In 2011 he finished just his second season of college football. Hillman is eligible for the draft because he is three years removed from his high school graduation due to the fact that he did not qualify academically in 2009.
Hillman wasted little time demonstrating difference-making talent once he got on the field, however, playing in all 13 and starting eight times in 2010. Defying a relatively slight frame, Hillman again started all 13 games in 2011, ranking among the national leaders with 311 carries on the season. Wisconsin's Montee Ball, by comparison, finished the year with 307 carries.
Hillman lacks the size scouts prefer but there is no denying that he shows legitimate NFL juice as an open field runner. With improved receiving and pass blocking skills Hillman could see the field early in his career. He received a third round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee and could prove quite a value if selected at that point in the draft.
Inside: Lacks the bulk most backs have, but is a surprisingly adept inside runner. Shows the toughness to attack the hole when necessary but generally is a patient runner whose electric lateral agility and burst gain him the most real estate. Only average leg drive overall but plays with good forward lean. Ball security has become a concern. Had two fumbles in 2010 and at least four (two at Michigan, TCU, Louisiana-Lafayette) in 2011.
Outside: Possesses very good speed to beat linebackers to the edge. Turns the corner quickly and accelerates smoothly. Very good vision for the cutback and cuts on dime. Sets defenders up with a stutter-step and go move that can make would-be tacklers look silly. Legitimate breakaway threat.
Breaking tackles: Relies on his agility to make defenders miss rather than brute power to run through tackles. Extremely elusive. Can make defenders miss in tight quarters and has the burst to accelerate past. Though undersized, he finishes his runs with good forward lean to gain maximum yardage.
Blocking: Willing to throw his body into a cut block but gets too low, allowing pass rushers to leap over him. Extends his arms to meet hard-charging linebackers but doesn't have the strength and sand in his pants to hold up.
Receiving: Made significant strides in his second season (24 receptions in 2011 as compared to nine a year earlier) but remains a work in progress. Flashes the hands to snatch passes away from his body. Makes most of his catches on simple flat routes and screens but is occasionally lined up outside or used on wheel routes. Dangerous receiver due to his open field runner skills but isn't always the most reliable pass-catcher. Hears the footsteps when attempting to catch passes in traffic.
Intangibles: Good football intelligence. Saw ball squirt free vs. Michigan, assumed it was a fumble, picked up and ran for first down. Play ultimately ruled an incomplete pass, but Hillman was the only player to react. Wasn't highly recruited out of high school. Received offers from only three Mountain West teams.
Exploded onto the scene as one of the country's top freshmen, leading the conference in rushing ... Speed burner, who has ability to take it up a notch in the open field and evade tacklers ... Was in 2009 fall camp, but left before the start of the semester and re-enrolled in the spring 2010, where he ended drills as the No. 1 running back ... Six 100-yard rushing games, all for more than 150 yards ... Two career outings with over 200 yards on the ground ... Named to Athlon Sports' 2011 Heisman Watch List and was also a preseason third-team All-American by the publication ... Preseason first-team all-conference by Athlon Sports, Blue Ribbon, Lindy's, Phil Steele and Sporting News ... Rivals.com listed him among the top 70 college football players in the nation regardless of position ... 2011 preseason all-Mountain West ... Tabbed to the preseason watch lists for the Walter Camp Award (college player of the year), Doak Walker Award (top running back) and Maxwell Award (college player of the year).
This season, Hillman has set a conference record with 1,656 rushing yards on 287 carries to go along with 19 touchdowns. He ranks third nationally in rushing yards per game (138.0), 11th in all-purpose yards per game (156.4) and 12th in points per game (12.00). Hillman's 1,656 rushing yards are the second most in school history, eclipsing each of NFL and SDSU Hall-of-Fame member Marshall Faulk's three seasons, and trail only George Jones' 1,842 set during the 1995 campaign.
Hillman has nine, 100-yard rushing games and six, 150-yard contests, both which have tied a school record. Additionally, his 19 rushing touchdowns are the fourth-most in a season in school history.
For his career, Hillman ranks third all-time at San Diego State with 3,188 rushing yards. He has 15, 100-yard rushing games (in 25 career games) and 12, 150-yard contests, both which rank second in program history. He's also second in rushing touchdowns (36) and total touchdowns (38), and sixth in scoring (228 points).
Among the NCAA career active leaders, Hillman is first in carries per game (22.0), second in rushing yards per game (127.5), fourth in points per game (9.1) and 15th in rushing yards per carry (5.81).
Played in all 13 games, starting eight times ... First-team freshman All-American by the FWAA and PhilSteele.com and tabbed a second-team pick by Rivals.com and CollegeFootballNews.com ... 2010 Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year and a first-team all-MWC?selection ... Was 10th nationally and first among freshmen in rushing yards per game (117.85), 42nd in all-purpose yardage (123.08) and 32nd in scoring (8.31/g) ... His 1,532 yards are an MWC and SDSU freshman record ... Beat the old freshman school record held by Marshall Faulk (1,429 - 1991) ... Rushing total is fifth in SDSU single-season history and best by an Aztec overall since 2001 ... Only MWC player to average more than 100 yards rushing per game in 2010 ... One of four Aztec true freshmen to play in the opener ... Came off the bench against Nicholls, posting a team-best 15 carries for 65 yards and a 6-yard TD in the fourth quarter of the Aztecs' victory ... MWC Offensive Player of the Week after scoring four, second-half touchdowns and running for 150 yards on 22 carries in the win over New Mexico State ... Four TDs are a MWC freshman record, are the most by an Aztec since 2001 and tied for fifth in school single-game history ... Spectacular outing at No. 25 Missouri, carrying 23 times for 228 yards and two scores ... First Aztec to run for 200 yards in a game since 2003 ... Set a MWC single-game record for rushing yards by a freshman (No. 20 nationally in 2010) ... Scored against the Tigers on runs of 75 and 93 yards ... His 93-yard rush was the third-longest in the nation in 2010, and is second in SDSU history ... First Aztec to have back-to-back 100-yard rushing games since 2006 ... Named MWC Offensive Player of the Week for a second time, becoming the first Aztec to do so in consecutive weeks in league history ... Scored a touchdown in his fourth straight game, giving SDSU a 7-0 lead vs. Utah State.
First career start against the Aggies, compiling 23 rushes for 89 yards and one reception for four yards ... Starter at BYU, carrying 10 times for 72 yards, including a long of 38 ... Third MWC Offensive Player-of-the-Week award, carrying 24 times for 191 yards and two scores in the upset of No. 23 Air Force ... First TD was on a 65-yard scamper in the first half and second proved to be the game-winner in the fourth quarter on a 44-yard run ... Played the first half and one play in the second half of the team's win at New Mexico ... Still logged 18 carries for 64 yards and his 11th TD of the season against the Lobos ... Starter at Wyoming, posting 44 yards on the ground ... Became the third Aztec freshman to break 1,000 yards in a season when he ran for 151 yards on a career-high 31 carries and a touchdown vs. Colorado State ... Had 54 yards rushing and a TD vs. Utah, along with a career-best two catches for 26 yards ... Ran for 152 yards on 19 carries vs. UNLV to break the MWC freshman rushing record ... Carried 28 times for 228 yards and three touchdowns in the Poinsettia Bowl win over Navy, garnering offensive MVP honors ... Added two receptions for 16 yards, one of them going for his first career receiving touchdown ... His six 100-yard rushing games in one season tied for seventh in Aztec history and are the most since 2001.
Led La Habra High to the 2008 CIF Southern Section Southwest Division title after going 5-0 in the Freeway League and winning the 2008 Freeway League championship ... A 2008 Orange County Register all-county first-team pick on special teams ... Dubbed the "Reggie Bush of Orange County" by Steve Fryer ... His prep team went 12-2 overall and ended the season on a nine-game win streak ... Selected as the 2008 Freeway League MVP ... Named a "Top 5 to Watch in 2008" by ocvarsity.com ... Picked No. 9 of the "Top 20 O.C. Recruits for Class of 2009" by ocvarsity.com, after he carried 97 times for 1,251 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2008 ... Rushing and receiving, he accounted for 2,104 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior ... The 2007 Southeast Division offensive player of the year ... Helped the Highlanders to the 2007 CIF-SS Southwest Division championship crown after amassing 1,615 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2007 ... Also lettered in track and field and basketball.
Born Sept. 14, 1991, in Long Beach, Calif. ... Son of Ronnie and Tiffany Hillman and Carla Mitchell ... Received scholarship offers from three Mountain West Conference schools ... Is a social science major.
Draft Scout Player News
01/11/13 - RB Ronnie Hillman might not see much action against Baltimore after fumbling in the regular-season finale against Kansas City. Hillman didn't carry the football again after that late-first-quarter fumble, and Broncos coaches have shown little patience with backup running backs who fumble this season.
01/09/13 - RB Ronnie Hillman might not see much action against Baltimore after fumbling in the regular-season finale against Kansas City. Hillman didn't carry the football again after that late-first-quarter fumble, and Broncos coaches have shown little patience with backup running backs who fumble this season.
01/08/13 - RB Ronnie Hillman fumbled on a hit by Kansas City's Derrick Johnson late in the first quarter Sunday and was de-emphasized after that. He never touched the ball again after gaining 13 yards on three first-quarter carries but said a few days later that he understood the reasons for the demotion.
01/04/13 - RB Ronnie Hillman fumbled on a hit by Kansas City's Derrick Johnson late in the first quarter Sunday and was de-emphasized after that. He never touched the ball again after gaining 13 yards on three first-quarter carries.
01/02/13 - RB Ronnie Hillman fumbled on a hit by Kansas City's Derrick Johnson late in the first quarter Sunday and was de-emphasized after that. He never touched the ball again after gaining 13 yards on three first-quarter carries.