When recruiting quarterbacks, a lot of them tend to make their decisions early on in the process. Recent 2019 commit, Graham Mertz, decided to sign on with the Badgers in October 2017, over two years before he signed his actual letter of intent. The signal caller then can act as a catalyst to recruit other players to join him, in a perfect world. Wisconsin isn’t looking to take a quarterback in the 2020 class and as such, it is important that they get their top choice in 2021.
Deacon Pe’a Hill is that choice.
Hill, who already seems excited to play in Madison, said during our conversation via Twitter direct message about recruiting guys to play with him, “Yes most definitely. I’m super excited to help get the best guys around me so that we can go beat every team.”
The rising junior from Santa Barbara (Santa Barbra High), California gave head coach Paul Chryst his verbal pledge on Tuesday and locked down the one open QB slot that the Badgers had in that recruiting cycle.
Hill was the backup QB for Santa Barbara last season but started the final game of the regular season, where he went 14 of 20 for 201 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-7 win, and started in the first round of the playoffs where his team fell to Culver City (the team that eventually won their section). He does not intend to lose in the first round again.
“My goals are to go deep in the playoffs and to break at least two passing records,” Hill said.
The 6’4” sophomore also used to star on the water polo team, which is a trait that runs in the family. All three of his sisters played and his eldest sister, Sami, was on the American Olympic gold medal winning team in 2016. Family is clearly important to Hill who responded best to recruiting pitches that made the school seem like a home away from home. “The ones about how the program is just a family atmosphere,” Hill mentioned, “and everyone is super close.”
Hill, who weighs nearly 230 pounds, sees himself in the mold of a young Ben Roethlisberger. He also noted that he models his game after 2009 Santa Barbara All-State quarterback, John Uribe. Modeling your game after Big Ben, on the field of course, is definitely something Badgers fans want to hear. Roethlisberger is strong, mobile for his size and can throw the ball a mile.
Santa Barbara runs an offense where the quarterback primarily takes snaps out of the shotgun, and that is something Hill thinks he’ll have to focus on, “I think I’ll fit in well with the offense because I’m a pocket passer but I’ll have to adjust to being under center because we run shotgun in high school.”
One of the questions that I’m sure Hill is expecting to hear from friends, family and opposing coaches trying to get him to flip is “why go so far from home?”
“I honestly didn’t really care about distance as long as I was getting to play ball,” he stated succinctly.
Despite being precocious on the football field, Hill still has a bit to learn when it comes to regional fast-casual burger chains. I asked him if he would miss In-N-Out Burger and mentioned that Culver’s was probably better but he countered with “I don’t know about that, In-N-Out is pretty good.”
During our chat we managed to cover some other very serious matters like whether or not he heard any weird rumors about the state of Wisconsin before visiting (“Honestly I didn’t hear too many rumors.”), if Paul Chryst was a good griller at his house (“I did not go because of the NCAA rules but I am looking forward to going to one soon.”) and if he was holding a grudge against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons for not recruiting him based on his name alone (“Hahaha, no I am not.”).