BYU freshman receiver Keanu Hill has impressive bloodlines but is already starting to make a name for himself
Newcomer from Texas has impressed coaches in practices, scrimmage, but has battled nagging injury
PROVO — When your dad was a college football All-American and your uncle was an all-pro receiver in the NFL, you arrive at your college of choice with plenty of fanfare and hoopla.
But BYU’s newest receiver, freshman Keanu Hill, is just trying to ease into Division I football before making any pronouncements about whether or not he will match his relatives’ careers.
“I’m just trying to be myself, find my own way,” said the 6-foot-4 Hill, who is from Euless, Texas.
Hill’s father, Lloyd Hill, was an All-American at Texas Tech in 1992 and played for the Chicago Bears. His uncle, Roy Williams, played for the Texas Longhorns and Dallas Cowboys and was selected to several Pro Bowls. Having arrived in Provo a couple months ago, Keanu Hill talks to his father and uncle almost every night.
“They give me key points of what I need to work on, things like that,” he said.
Hill has stood out among the receivers at BYU’s preseason training camp — when he’s been healthy. He’s battled some nagging hamstring tightness and hasn’t been able to practice recently. He said he’s “questionable” for Wednesday’s scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“I feel like I am picking it up the offense well,” he said, calling the injury a possible blessing in disguise. “Coming in here, it was very difficult for me to get down the plays. But every day I am in the film room, going over the plays with coaches and getting them down.”
How does a three-star receiver from Texas with no ties to BYU end up in Provo?
Hill said BYU learned about him during his junior season, then watched his spring game and quickly offered a scholarship. Former offensive line coach Ryan Pugh made the first contact, then receivers coach Fesi Sitake and offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes joined in and Sitake eventually made a scholarship offer.
“That was a really big moment for me,” said Hill, whose only other DI offer was from Wyoming.
He attributes that “under-recruitment” to playing in a run-heavy offense and Euless Trinity, although he still caught 36 passes for 567 yards and five touchdowns as a junior, according to 247sports.com.
As a senior, after he had committed to BYU, he caught 48 balls for 761 yards and four touchdowns and made the All-District team in his football-rich county.
“I chose BYU because of the environment and just how they welcomed me with open arms,” he said. “I really like the school here and the people.”
After the first scrimmage at the stadium on Aug. 10, Grimes singled out Hill for making several big catches.
“Keanu Hill in particular is a guy who has really shown some ability to make plays. Sometimes when you call it a scrimmage and you come into LaVell Edwards Stadium, some guys get a little bit nervous and don’t perform as well as they could. Other guys maybe step up their game even a little bit more. It looks to me that he’s that kind of guy,” Grimes said. “He’s not overly nervous, and he has played in some big games in his high school program. I don’t think the moment will ever be too big for him.”
Starting quarterback Zach Wilson was also impressed.
“Keanu is a stud,” Wilson said. “He’s got a lot of potential. I am excited for him in these coming years as long as he is willing to put his head down and grind for it.”
Fesi Sitake, who said he feels like the Cougars found a gem in the Lone Star State, said Hill “has a chance to play this year” if he can stay healthy.
“One thing that has been hurting him is little dingers, little injuries that have kept him out of practices,” Sitake said. “And obviously, getting those reps live is critical for a freshman. So that’s been hurting him. And then he has a summer class schedule that makes him miss meetings once in a while. So whenever we have time to meet, we have to get him sped up with everything.”
Sitake said a couple other freshman — most notably Brayden Cosper and Luc Andrada — have also made plays in camp and will push the five established receivers for playing time, along with Hill.
BYU’s top six receivers in preseason training camp
• Aleva Hifo, Sr., 5-10, 187
• Dax Milne, So., 6-0, 187
• Gunner Romney, So., 6-3, 188
• Talon Shumway, Sr., 6-3, 210
• Micah Simon, Sr., 6-1, 195
• Keanu Hill, Fr., 6-4, 210