MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Tyreek Hill’s world-class speed has turned Joe DeForest into a world-class worrier.
In truth, DeForest already was fretting his West Virginia coverage units that rank 112th on kickoffs and 124th on punts. Now comes Saturday’s game at Oklahoma State and the added strain of containing Hill on runbacks.
“Who, Tyreek the Freak?’’ DeForest said. “He’s the fastest guy on the face of the earth.’’
Well, perhaps the fastest in pads.
In May 2012, Hill ran a 10.19 in the 100 meters, the fastest in the United States that year. Later that day he covered the 200 in 20.14 seconds, only .01 off the fastest time ever for a high school sprinter and a mark that would have ranked sixth at the London Olympics that year.
Two years later, after academics forced Hill to detour through Garden City Community College, he’s showing off his wheels at Oklahoma State, having turned down offers from Alabama, USC, Oklahoma Baylor and Florida State.
Coincidentally, in his first FBS game this season, Hill broke a 46-yard kick return against the Seminoles. He also had 14 offensive touches (eight rushing, six receiving) that gained 106 yards.
“Well, we know he’s fast,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy after the opener. “We’ve confirmed that, because those guys (from Florida State) chasing him were fast.”
Hill is one of seven FBS players to return two kicks for touchdowns this season, a group that includes West Virginia’s Mario Alford and Oklahoma’s Alex Ross. Hill’s scores came on a 99-yarder against Iowa State and a 97-yarder at Kansas that helped Oklahoma State eke out a 27-20 win.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, having seen OSU deploy Hill in a variety of alignments, said the 5-foot-11 receiver “is as dynamic as anybody in the country.” Perhaps because of the attention afforded his legendary speed, and the Cowboys’ offensive line failures, Hill has been mostly held in check by defenses.
He made a 50-yard catch-and-run against Texas Tech but averages only 9.9 yards per reception. He nets 5.1 per carry but has yet to run for a touchdown. His total offense output amounts to 62 yards per game.
Yet the threat of Hill’s breakaway speed has defenses seeking him out before each snap, whether it’s in the slot, the backfield or in motion.
“You watch the tape and you’ll see (defensive) guys pointing and yelling, ‘There’s No. 24, there’s 24,’” said West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson.
Back to that scorching 200-meter time, Hill’s was faster than other noted football/track crossovers such as Clemson’s C.J. Spiller, Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas and NFL 2,000-yard runner Chris Johnson.
Gibson dismissed the notion Hill is a track star trying to learn his way around the field: “No, he’s a football player that can run.”
OSU receiver arrested: Hill could play an expanded role this weekend should Gundy opt to discipline receiver Jhajuan Seales, who was arrested over the weekend after he and a teammate fell asleep inside a car as it sat in the Whatburger drive-thru lane.
Seales, a starter who has 13 catches for 236 yards and three touchdowns this season, and reserve cornerback Juwan Offray were charged with public intoxication.
Seales caught four passes for 40 yards in Morgantown last season.