Justice Hill checked in at No. 31 on Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 College Football Players of 2018 list.
The Oklahoma State running back was ranked higher than Missouri quarterback Drew Lock (No. 33), Florida State tailback Cam Akers (No. 36) and West Virginia wide receiver David Sills (No. 38).
Hill continues to pick up preseason hype after two stellar seasons in Stillwater, Okla. The junior also earned a preseason All-America nod from Athlon Sports.
Mason Rudolph, James Washington and Marcell Ateman are gone, but attrition won’t stop Mike Gundy from expecting his Cowboys offense to score at will. After leading all freshmen with 1,142 rushing yards during the 2016 regular season and topping the Big 12 with 1,347 yards and 14 TDs on the ground during the ’17 regular season, Hill will be called upon to pop big plays with regularity even if J.D. King steps into a larger backfield role. Hill runs with a creativity and an anger that most defenses on Oklahoma State’s schedule won’t have an answer for, and with runs of more than 30 yards in seven of 13 games last year, he may be this year’s best proof that you don’t need to take to the air to pick up chunks of yards at a time.
The biggest hurdle for Hill will be how well Oklahoma State’s line holds up. The Cowboys are forced to replace tackle Zachary Crabtree and center Brad Lundblade.
Oklahoma State returns Larry Williams at guard, but he’s struggled to stay healthy while with the Cowboys.
Hill’s production could also be contingent on Oklahoma State’s quarterback situation. The running back could carry the offense on his shoulders if the Cowboys’ passing attack can’t move the sticks.
Visit SI.com for the other top-ranked players in college football next season.