Another Wisconsin Badgers starter is headed to "Who Dey" country.
Cornerback Darius Hillary will sign with the Cincinnati Bengals, joining wide receiver Alex Erickson and NFL veteran Kevin Zeitler on the AFC North squad. Jim Owczarski of the Enquirer first reported the signing, as NFL Draft Diamonds did moments later. B5Q confirmed with Hillary's agent later Saturday evening.
Hillary played in 13 games last season as a starter in a veteran secondary, recording 44 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. He was part of a defense that ranked first in the nation in scoring defense (13.7 points per game allowed) and seventh in passing yards allowed (173.2).
The cornerback will get a chance to showcase his skills for a professional franchise. From Owen Riese's scouting report:
Every year, the demand for quality cornerbacks increases in the NFL due to the seemingly never ending quest for more points and passing statistics headed by Roger Goodell. Darius Hillary has been a very underrated and unheralded player throughout his collegiate career, and it shouldn't come as a shock if he makes a roster in the NFL.
Playing almost exclusively left corner in former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's scheme, Hillary was rarely targeted by opposing passers. That fostered this odd stat: In 2014 and 2015, despite having a combined 11 passes defensed, he had zero interceptions. This makes it tough to evaluate Hillary for NFL teams; is he simply ineffective while the ball is in the air? Can he not catch? Either way, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection this past season, despite those zero interceptions.
Hillary was opportunistic, recovering a fumble vs Minnesota as well as always being in position in coverage, so it will be interesting to see if the NFL will punish him for his lack of production in college.
[Update, 8:59 p.m. CT: Hillary's agent confirmed he has signed with the Bengals]