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Why isn’t anyone showing love for Justice Hill?

The Big 12’s leading rusher in 2017 is flying under the radar...but why?

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

There have always been prognostications and articles written in the offseason that are polarizing. And with how passionate college football fans are, of course there can be disagreement. However, it just so happens that a recent list was published and assaulted any and all rational thought:

Justice Hill not a top 50 player in the country? This list is easy to dismiss as the #3 player on it is a guy who threw 12 interceptions last year (tied for 7th most in the country), but it brought up a point that I think needs to be examined. Why is Justice Hill flying so under the radar? Even CBS features Justice in their “Undervalued Players” column:

“It seems like Cowboys coach Mike Gundy has a skill position cloning machine hidden somewhere in Stillwater, and Hill is the next big star to come out of the program. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back has topped the 1,100-yard mark in each of his two seasons in the backfield -- including 1,467 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2017. Another big year in an offense that will be without quarterback Mason Rudolph as well as wide receivers James Washington and Marcell Ateman will certainly draw the attention of NFL scouts and analysts.”

Let’s look at some overall stats from Justice’s 2017 campaign. Not only did he lead the Big 12 in all categories, but he did that while his counterparts were racking up 377(!) yards per game in the air.

Big 12 rankings vs. National Rankings

Category Big 12 Rank National Rank
Category Big 12 Rank National Rank
Yards Per Game 1 18
Rushing Attempts 1 12
Rushing Yards 1 17
Touchdowns 1 18

Now we can look at a couple of samples from the list. To be fair, we will look at the highest rated running back in Bryce Love, although we can all agree that he is an incredible talent and we wouldn’t expect Justice to supersede him. Then, we will compare Hill to someone on the list that is ranked towards the bottom of the list (#44).

Justice Hill vs. Bryce Love

Category Justice Hill Bryce Love
Category Justice Hill Bryce Love
Yards Per Game 112 164
Rushing Attempts 245 237
Rushing Yards 1,347 1,973
Touchdowns 14 17

Justice Hill vs. Rodney Anderson

Category Justice Hill Rodney Anderson
Category Justice Hill Rodney Anderson
Yards Per Game 112 74
Rushing Attempts 245 162
Rushing Yards 1,347 960
Touchdowns 14 11

Alright, Bryce Love is awesome. But we can all agree that Hill far exceeded what others on that list have and that it is a fallacy to include a Big 12 running back who isn’t the returning Big 12 rushing champion when said champion is not on the list. And now he is bigger, stronger, and faster than ever before…

In 2018, Hill will have an experienced offensive line and an offensive coordinator that will be eager to get him as many carries as he can shoulder. Gundy also believes that Hill will be ready to be a high draft pick after this season:

“That’s good news and bad news,” Gundy told the roughly 700 OSU alumni and donors in attendance. “The bad news is, when he finishes up, he’s probably gonna move on — which is good news. He’s gonna be a very high-round pick (in the NFL Draft), and somebody’s gonna get a fantastic player for a long, long time.”

OSU has a ton of production to replace from last year and someone has to be there to scoop up all those delicious yards. Justice will be jump-cutting all over the field collecting them up like Super Mario going after coins, but I fear that the team might not be successful enough as a whole to merit postseason award consideration. Only time will tell, but maybe everyone will keep ignoring the greatness that is Justice Hill long enough for him to run right past all of them.