Peyton Hillis #44 RB
Height: 6-2 Weight: 250 Age: 27
Born: 1/21/1986 Conway , AR
Experience: 6th season
High School: Conway HS [AR]
Selected By: Denver Broncos
Pick (Overall): 20 (227)
While Darren McFadden and Felix Jones have been the featured runners in the Razor-backs' powerful running attack the last three seasons, Peyton Hillis was a valuable contributor for Arkansas, and possibly its most versatile athlete.
During his time at Arkansas, Hillis was utilized as a fullback, H-back, tailback, tight end, wide receiver, kickoff returner and punt returner.
A punishing blocker, a powerful runner and a natural receiver, he's tied for seventh in school history in receptions (118), ninth in touchdown catches (11) and 15th all-time in receiving yardage (1,195). He added 12 rushing TDs, averaged 10.3 yards per punt return and amassed 2,624 all-purpose yards over 44 games.
A highly recruited player at Conway High School, Hillis was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Offensive Player of the Year as a senior. He was also selected to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Team as both a junior and a senior and was a member of the Associated Press Arkansas Super Team. He added Fox Sports Net "All-South" first-team honors and won the Landers Award, recognizing the top high school football player in Arkansas.
Hillis earned consensus All-Conference, All-State and All-Arkansas honors as a junior and a senior. The Super Prep All-American was ranked as both the top fullback in the nation and the top prospect in Arkansas by the same publication. Named to Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report and Parade All-American squad, he was rated as the second-best fullback in the nation and as the top prospect in Arkansas by Rivals.com. Max Emfinger had him as the top fullback prospect in the nation and he was listed as the third-best prospect in the state by The Morning News. He also earned All-State honors in baseball.
Hillis rushed for 2,631 yards and 29 touchdowns, including nine touchdowns of more than 55 yards, on 261 carries (10.1-yard average) in his senior season. His 2,631 yards was the second highest single-season total in Class 5A history trailing only former Razorback De'Arrius Howard (2,746). He earned 100 yards or more in all 12 games that year and caught 12 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 384 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Russellville as a senior and 1,427 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior, adding 10 receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Hillis enrolled at Arkansas in 2004. He turned down scholarship offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Tennessee and Michigan, going on to start two of 10 games for the Razorbacks. He was thought to be out for at least six weeks after suffering a fracture of the transverse processes of the L1, L2 and L3 vertebrates vs. the Gators.
However, he returned to play three snaps vs. Georgia only three weeks after the injury, starting his first career game as a Razorback. He finished his first year with 240 yards and six touchdowns on 63 carries (3.8-yard average), adding 97 yards and two scores on 12 receptions (8.1 avg) and 128 yards on seven kickoff returns (18.3 avg).
Hillis amassed 947 all-purpose yards as a sophomore, starting nine games at fullback and the Vanderbilt clash at tailback. He rushed 65 times for 315 yards (4.8-yard average) and three touchdowns. He led the team with 38 receptions for 402 yards (10.6 avg) and four scores. He added 65 yards on three kickoff returns (21.7 avg), 165 yards on 16 punt returns (10.3 avg) and scored 42 points. He also excelled on the coverage units, posting five tackles.
Hillis started nine of the team's first 10 games at fullback before being sidelined for the last four contests of the 2006 season with a deep right thigh bruise. He managed just 57 yards on 13 carries (4.4-yard average) with a score, finishing third on the team with 19 receptions for 159 yards (8.4 avg). He also produced 92 yards on eight punt returns, totaling 326 all-purpose yards while posting three tackles (two solo).
Those totals did not make the fullback happy and he would not accept his injury as a factor for his statistical decline.
Feeling that they were overworking Hillis his first three seasons, new running back coach Tim Horton reduced the fullback's work load as a senior.
Hillis went on to start nine of 13 games in 2007, earning second-team All-American honors for his blocking exploits. He carried 62 times for 347 yards (5.6-yard average) and two touchdowns. For the second time in his career, he led Arkansas with a career-high 49 catches for 537 yards (11.0 avg) and five scores. He closed out his final season with 886 all-purpose yards, as his blocking paved the way for the Razorbacks to lead the South-eastern Conference and rank fourth nationally in rushing (286.54 yards per game).
In 44 games at Arkansas, Hillis started 30 times, including one start at tailback. He gained 959 yards with 12 touchdowns on 203 carries (4.7-yard average) and hauled in 118 passes for 1,195 yards (10.1 avg), including 11 scores. He attempted two passes, returned 12 kickoffs for 213 yards (17.8 avg) and gained 257 yards on 25 punt returns (10.3 avg). He scored 138 points, recorded nine tackles (five solo) and totaled 2,624 all-purpose yards, an average of 59.64 yards per game.