His easy-going personality is the influence of his father, Larry, while growing up in the blue-collar Harrisburg suburb of Steelton, he said. Mostly playing baseball and basketball growing up, Hill picked up football in seventh grade also at the encouragement of his father.
The competitive edge was honed, in part, around pick-up games of basketball. Hill's cousin, Bucknell's 6-foot-3 junior point guard Ryan Hill, remembers one instance when Hill, teamed up with Ryan Hill's brother, Lloyd, on the local YMCA basketball court during a snow day.
Jordan set up the teams. Back then, Ryan Hill says he was a skinny 5 foot, 7 inches, and joined in the two-on-two game with a friend who also less than 6 feet. Jordan and Lloyd Hill, who is now an offensive lineman at St. Francis, Pa., both stood at 6-foot-2, Ryan Hill said.
"I felt the game was unfair because Lloyd and Jordan were on the same team," Ryan Hill said. In the end though, it turned out to be a lesson, too from his cousin.
"He said, 'You just have to get the job done," Ryan Hill recalled.
It was no surprise to the family when Hill stuck with Penn State in July after the NCAA levied its strict sanctions on the program for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
The day fellow seniors Michael Zordich and Mauti gave an impassioned statement with about two dozen other players that they were staying at Penn State, Hill was on the golf course — where he was working as an intern. He was getting breakfast at a concession stand when he looked up at a TV to find Zordich and Mauti speaking.
"I didn't know what was going on," Hill said with a chuckle.
Hill said he would have been there, too, if he didn't have the internship.
"When I had my (preseason) meeting with Coach O'Brien," he said, "I told him the only way I'd leave this program is if there wasn't going to be any more football."
That wasn't the case, of course, and Penn State has had a better-than-expected season in part because of Hill and the talented defense.
"I'm playing next to one of the toughest, fastest and best defensive tackles I've ever seen play," said redshirt freshman Deion Barnes, who has emerged at defensive end this season. "Playing through injury and adversity, he's probably one of the best players I've ever played next to."
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