Height: 5-11 Weight: 235 Age: 31
Born: 7/30/1984 Kalispell , MT
Selected By: Miami Dolphins
Pick (Overall): 38 (204)
Lex Hilliard was sorely missed in the starting lineup for the Grizzlies in 2006, but he was able to return, fully recovered, from a torn left Achilles tendon, an injury suffered in '06 fall drills. During his grueling rehabilitation, the powerful tailback added more bulk and strength to his frame while also improving his overall quickness.
He has the raw power to carry defenders into the end zone and scored 40 touchdowns on the ground. He is only the fourth Montana player to score over 250 points (252) in a career and just the second player in school history to rush for over 3,000 yards (3,241).
Hilliard was a multi-sport standout at Flathead High School, where he earned four letters in football, three in track, and one in wrestling. The team's two-time Most Valuable Player on the gridiron, he also garnered All-State and All-Conference football accolades in each of his final three seasons with the squad.
During his career, Hilliard set school all-time records by rushing for 3,419 yards and 44 touchdowns and compiling 4,410 all-purpose yards. He holds the school record with 1,384 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing as a sophomore, adding Great Falls Super State Team recognition.
Hilliard led the team to the Class AA state championship game as a junior. He participated in the East-West Shrine Game and the Montana-North Dakota All-Star Game. In track, he twice earned All-League honors while competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and 4x100 meter relays. He also threw the shot put. His sophomore, junior, and senior track teams all won state AA championships.
As a true freshman at Montana in 2003, Hilliard was a valuable reserve, playing in the final 12 games behind Justin Green. Hilliard was originally scheduled to redshirt, but the coaching staff felt he was capable of seeing extended playing time and activated him for the second game of the season. He went on to finish second on the team with 125 carries for 590 yards (4.7-yard average) and five touchdowns. He grabbed nine passes for 117 yards (13.0 avg) and returned a kickoff 12 yards while also posting two tackles.
Despite starting just four of 14 games as a sophomore, Hilliard earned All-Big Sky Conference first-team honors. He paced the Grizzlies with 972 yards on 190 attempts (5.1-yard average) and 17 touchdowns (second-best season total in school annals). He made 22 catches for 211 yards (9.6 avg), returned one kickoff eight yards and amassed 1,191 all-purpose yards (85.1 yards per game).
Hilliard earned All-American second-team honors from The NFL Draft Report and was again named to the All-Big Sky Conference first-team. He ranked second in the conference in rushing in his first year as a starter, gaining 1,322 yards with 12 touchdowns on 249 carries (5.3-yard average). He added 144 yards and two scores on 11 catches (13.1-yard average) and also attempted a pass. His average of 122.17 all-purpose yards per game ranked fourth in the Big Sky; 110.17 of the per-game total came on the ground.
On everyone's preseason All-American list and an early favorite for the Payton Award (Division 1-AA's top player), Hilliard suffered a torn left Achilles tendon midway through August camp and was forced to miss the 2006 season. The ground game averaged 139.36 yards per game in his absence, compared to 162.17 yards with Hilliard in the lineup in 2005.
In 11 games in '07, Hilliard gained 102.9 rushing yards per game -- 1,132 rushing yards -- and scored 16 touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards on 242 carries. He caught 15 passes for 119 yards with a long gain of 24 yards and averaged 7.9 yards per reception. With 1,251 total yards, he averaged 113.7 all-purpose yards per game.
In 49 games at Montana, Hilliard gained 4,016 rushing yards and scored 50 rushing touchdowns and 52 total TDs. He carried the ball 806 times and averaged five yards per carry in his career (82 rushing yards per game) with a long gain of 69 yards in 2005. Only Yohance Humphery (4,070 yards, 1998-2001) had more rushing yards in his Montana career.