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Jets trade up to take Georgia Tech WR Hill

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets jumped up and grabbed Stephen Hill, giving their offense a big and speedy wide receiver.

The Jets slid four spots to No. 43 overall in the second round Friday by trading the 47th pick, plus their fifth-rounder and a seventh-rounder, No. 232 overall, to the Seattle Seahawks to get the playmaking Georgia Tech star.

"Oh, man, I was happy," Hill said during a conference call. "We had a lot of conversations and I feel really home there."

Hill could immediately step in as a starter opposite Santonio Holmes, filling one of New York's biggest needs entering the draft. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Hill will give quarterback Mark Sanchez a target who can get down the field in a flash. He had 28 catches for 820 yards — averaging more than 29 yards a catch — and five touchdowns last season for the Yellow Jackets while playing in a triple-option offense.

Despite coach Rex Ryan and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano saying they want to be a run-first offense, the Jets still needed someone to complement Holmes. New York also has Chaz Schilens, signed as a free agent; Jeremy Kerley, a fifth-round pick last year; and Patrick Turner, who saw limited action last season. Plaxico Burress, who served as the team's primary goal-line threat last season, is a free agent and unlikely to be re-signed after one season with the Jets.

"I feel great, especially now that I'm in an offense where I can catch the ball a little bit more," Hill said. "Catching the ball from Mark Sanchez will be great. I'm going to make sure I get with him as soon as possible."

New York took North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples with its first-round pick at No. 16 overall, giving the Jets the pass rusher they coveted. Fans at the draft site at Radio City Music Hall cheered the selection of Hill, who was there — after not being picked Thursday night — and gave a big "J-E-T-S!" cheer.

"It was definitely a long day of waiting," said Hill, whose name was announced by former Jets Pro Bowl receiver Wesley Walker. "Wherever I was picked, I was going to be happy to go to that team, but now I'm glad that I'm with the Jets. When I heard that the Jets had traded, I really didn't have any idea until that phone started ringing.

"And I just got so happy, I didn't even answer the phone on the first ring."

Hill thinks it will be a "big transition" going from a triple-option offense to the pros, but nothing more than any other rookie coming in from college.

"I'm ready to go, and I'm ready to learn," he said. "I'm a quick learner, so I'm ready to see how things are going to fall out."

Hill has lots of big-play ability, and has been often compared to Denver's Demaryius Thomas — a guy who became a favorite of Tim Tebow, now the Jets' backup quarterback behind Sanchez. He had just 49 career catches in three seasons at Georgia Tech, but he set the NCAA record by averaging 55.2 yards on his nine touchdown grabs. Hill also averaged 64 yards for his five TD catches last season, topping the single-season NCAA mark of 56.09 yards by Houston's Elmo Wright in 1968.

He ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in February, flashing the speed he says is "routine."

"I definitely have a lot to prove," Hill said. "People didn't even think I was going to run that fast, so I definitely had to show them I could run that fast."

Despite the blazing speed, he's also a nice fit in the Jets' run-first offense because of his terrific ability to block.

"I can definitely put somebody on their butt," he said. "They liked my physicality a lot. They just want me to transfer that, of course, to getting off jams and making sure the corner doesn't cover me as well."

The Jets showed great interest in Hill early in the draft process, going to his pro day and setting up a formal meeting with him. Hill also had a private workout with the Jets and visited the team's facility.

"Whatever they bring to the table, I'm going to come in and fit in wherever I fit in," he said.

Hill wasn't tripped up when asked if he's also looking forward to catching passes from Tebow, acquired from the Jets last month. Tebow is expected to fill several roles in New York's offense.

"Both are great athletes," Hill said of Tebow and Sanchez. "They're both winners and I'm ready to just go."