Grant Hill ready for the challenge

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- In middle school, Grant Hill was bigger than most kids. Not surprisingly, he played along the offensive line, but he also caught for the baseball team, and his brightest future looked to be in track and field, throwing the discus.

If you asked him back in those days, he would've told you that he wasn't even thinking about playing football in high school.

However, when he was one of just two seventh-graders to start on the middle school football team, he realized he may have a future in the game. Five years later, he's an ESPN 300 offensive guard at Huntsville (Ala.) High, committed to play for the University of Alabama and an Under Armour All-American.

"At that point, I guess I kind of decided I could be really good at this if I worked at it, so I started working and training with my trainers," Hill said of his middle school years. "It all worked out for me."

On Friday, the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Amour All-America Game came to Huntsville High to present Hill with his official game jersey. The game has featured former Crimson Tide stars Julio Jones and Trent Richardson as well as current Alabama players such as Landon Collins, Cyrus Kouandjio and Dee Milliner.

"It's an honor," Hill said. "That's basically the only way I can say it. It's a real honor."

According to his father, there's one play that can sum up what type of player Hill is and why he was selected to play in the Under Armour Game.

As a junior, Hill was blocking his man on a rushing play. He kept blocking his man and the 6-foot-5, 320-pound lineman ended up pushing his man clear out of the back of the end zone as the ball carrier crossed the goal line.

"He took the coaching so literal, literally don't stop until you hear the whistle," Hill's father, Brad Hill, said. "I didn't think he'd be able to sustain that. I thought he'd be able to do it a game or two, but he's just relentless."

The Alabama coaching staff took notice of Hill early on. With very few scholarship offers, the in-state prospect visited Tuscaloosa last November for the LSU game. Before the game, UA head coach Nick Saban pulled Hill into his office and said Alabama planned to offer him a scholarship.

"It's kind of surreal when I think about it," Hill said. "I just work and do my thing with what God has given me and my talents. As soon as Coach Saban started talking to me, I expected him at some point to be like, 'No, I was just kidding.'

"But when he said the offer was coming my way, I thought, 'Wow, this is for real. I can do this.' It was a great feeling. All of it paid off."

On the car ride down to Tuscaloosa, Hill asked his father what he had to do to become an All-American. The elder Hill didn't have a response, but when Saban offered his son a scholarship to play for the Tide, he knew that was a good start.

"The fact that the Alabama coaches thought he was that caliber, that's basically why he's an All-American," Hill's father said. "They sought him out and pursued him, and everybody else was like, 'Hey, maybe there's something more.' That was a surreal moment for us."

Nearly a year later, Hill is officially an Under Armour All-American. He's ready to get his name out there. He said he's looking forward to the coaching he will receive from the experts at the game and he's excited to meet the other players and form new friendships.

But more than anything, he's ready for the challenge.

"I went to the five-star challenge, and I went up against a bunch of guys that are highly ranked," Hill said. "I like it. I like pushing myself. I just like to see what I can do and see where I can put myself. I don't like going up against guys that are way worse than me. I like a challenge."