Arizona wide receiver Austin Hill is already thinking about the 2014 college football season, stating his intention to return to school next year.
Of course, that might not be the case had Hill not torn his ACL in spring practice. Hill (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) enjoyed a breakout sophomore season in head coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense, catching 81 receptions for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns. Another impressive season highlighting his elusiveness in the open field and jump-ball ability would likely have seen Hill off to the 2014 NFL Draft.
Instead, the injury forced Hill to realize that trying to get by merely on his athleticism would not be enough.
"Since this injury, it has kind of opened my eyes up to how hard I could have been working, how much better I could have gotten," Hill said.
There is an outside chance Hill, who has been cleared to practice, could return for any of the Wildcats' final three regular-season games or a bowl game, though Rodriguez doesn't expect that to happen.
The biggest development scouts will likely want to see whenever Hill returns is whether he can be an impact player operating outside the numbers. Hill almost exclusively worked out of the slot, which allowed him to get a free release off the line.
Wherever Hill lines up, UA could have one of the best receiving corps in the game next season. Two talented transfers -- Cayleb Jones, formerly of Texas, and Davonte' Neal, formerly of Notre Dame -- will be eligible to play, while true freshmen Samajie Grant and Nate Phillips are leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns this season and should only continue to improve.
Even with all that talent and a run-first approach, Hill expects big things from himself.
"I want to break records," Hill said. "I want to push myself past the point where I feel I can push myself. I want to be remembered here."