In this installment of the Recruit Notebook, we meet a player with good size who could be a nice starter at The U in time: OL Zalontae Hillery.
An athletic player at RT, Zalontae Hillery was a key piece to Brunswick (GA) Glynn Academy’s success in recent years. Hillery, a 6’6” 280lb OL, led the way for the Terrors’ offensive attack, keyed by teammate and fellow Canes commit ATH DeeJay Dallas.
While Hillery is a good player in his own right, he can thank Dallas for the connection to Miami. When you look at a player such as Dallas, who played QB among many other positions at Glynn Academy, you see the players blocking for him. That is how Hillery got noticed, and after that, Miami’s coaches worked to build the connection with him.
Both Hillery and Dallas attended the inaugural Paradise recruiting camp on campus in Coral Gables, and Hillery committed to the Canes at the event in July. While he maintained his commitment to Miami was solid, inquiries from several other teams — North Carolina State and Kentucky most notably — gave Miami a run for their money here.
In the end, the Canes were able to get Hillery to stick with his initial commitment, and in doing so added a very athletic player who could develop into a starter at RT down the line.
On the 247sports composite, Hillery is a 3-star prospect, the #52 OT in this class, #50 in the State of Georgia, and #476 recruit overall. While still raw due to his relative inexperience playing football, Hillery has great size at 6’6” 280lbs, with room to add size, and good athleticism.
Hillery picked Miami over 17 other offers, including Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Michigan State, and North Carolina State.
Hillery as a player
Hillery is a raw player, but he has plenty of athleticism and potential. At 6’6” 280lbs, Hillery has good height, length, and size for playing OT at the college level. Hillery is the 2nd best OL recruit in Miami’s class, behind 4-star OL Navaughn Donaldson, and has a chance to be a good player at Miami.
Even as he’s developing as a player, he’s done well so far in his career. Hillery was named 1st Team All-State in Georgia’s 6A classification, which Glynn Academy coach Rocky Hidalgo spoke of recently in a local South Georgia newspaper:
“He’s an incredible player,” Hidalgo said. “I’ve coached high school football for 21 years and honestly I’ve had 20 guys play on the offensive line in college. He’s easily the most talented one I’ve ever had. He’s an incredibly gifted kid and a great person. I’m really excited for him.”
That’s the thought of one coach. Here’s another eval of Hillery from another HSFB coach:
He looks good in his stance and can bend and sink his hips. His leg drive in pass pro is great (1:50 on the tape). Once he makes contact he drives his legs the way you're taught. He has good footwork but not excellent. He brings his hands okay in his punch but nothing fantastic. He has a great pancake around 2:30 in the tape and he looks perfect there.
His downside is he looks lost in space and can't find people to hit. He does everything good but not great so I think he's a kid who can learn and improve quickly since he has been taught and just needs the right refined skill here or there. I would assume he redshirts.
To take the next step forward as a team, Miami needs improvement from the OT position. Hillery adds another body with good athleticism and talent to that position, but his lack of experience and need for development will probably keep him from contributing on the field this season.
Chances for a redshirt: 10/10
Hillery has plenty of talent, good size, and developing technique at RT for the future. But, the future is where his best football lives, so he’ll start the process to get there with a redshirt in 2017.
That’s it for this installment of the Recruit Notebook.