FIU wide receiver and return specialist T.Y. “Goodbye” Hilton decided to stay at Florida International University for his senior year to earn his degree in Sports Broadcasting, as well as improve his NFL Draft stock for 2012. Retaining the multi-threat star, who is known for his blazing speed and ability to score in multiple ways, solidifies the eighth year program FIU as a favorite to repeat as Sun Belt Conference champions. The Golden Panthers will return 15 starters from their 2010 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl winning team.
The 5’10″ 183 pound Hilton was projected to be a mid-to late-round draft pick, but another solid season should improve his position. T.Y. is often compared to former UM standout and Chicago Bear Devin Hester for his field vision and playmaking ability, but the Miami native is already more electric than Hester and has had a better college career.
Listen up Miami. If you have not watched T.Y. Hilton play yet, you have missed out on the most exciting player in Florida college sports.
His flair for the dramatic is legendry (I know how to spell it, I just want to sound like a proper Brit), as this season alone five of his 11 touchdowns either tied the score or gave FIU the lead. In their Bowl victory, he turned the game around with an 89 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Then on fourth-and-17 late in the game, Hilton rode the sideline on an improbable hook-and-ladder play to get the first down and set up kicker Jack Griffin’s victory field goal. To clinch the Sun Belt conference title back in late November against Arkansas State, Hilton broke multiple tackles during his 42-yard game-winning touchdown catch that made it onto ESPN’s top ten countdown.
In his freshman year of 2008, T.Y. became the first player in over a decade to score a touchdown five different ways in one season: receiving, rushing, kickoff return, punt return and passing. He finished with 12 total scores. That year he was named Sun Belt freshman of the year while finishing third in the nation in all-purpose yards per game with over 180 per contest.
The speedster also appears to be a man of his word. Or a prophet. When being recruited by coach Mario Cristobal, Hilton told him that he would score a touchdown the first time he touched the ball in a college game. Which is exactly what happened on a 74-yard punt return vs. Kansas. The very first time he touched the ball during his sophomore season? Also a touchdown on a 96-yard kickoff return vs. eventual BCS champion Alabama.
After FIU’s final loss of 2009 left FIU with a 3-9 record. Hilton was angry and upset at his teams underachievement. Coach Cristobal will never forget T.Y. Hilton’s face.
“He looked at me, with this stare, and said ‘coach, this will never happen again’ ” Cristobal said “Next year, we are winning the championship”.
The next time T.Y Hilton touches a football, you should watch. The next time he opens his mouth, you should listen.
Some quick Hilton hits-
—The hook and ladder play is now known as the “Motor City Miracle”
—In 2008 against Arkansas State, T.Y. improvised the “Hilton Heave” for his second play with a nickname. Hilton recovered a fumbled ball on a reverse, then scrambled and threw across his body for a game-winning touchdown pass to Junior Mertile.
—Also carried the ball 30 times for 9.4 yards per carry in 2010
—Set a school record in 2009 with a 28.8 kickoff return average
—In the FIU victory against defending conference champion Troy this season, Hilton scored an 80-yard touchdown out of the Wildcat formation. He then ran for a 61-yard score.
—Named Sun Belt conference player of the year in 2010, as well as earning a spot on the all conference 1st team. Awarded the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl MVP
—FIU record 24.7 yards -per-catch in 2008