RALEIGH — It’s hard to imagine someone 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds going about his business without being noticed, especially on a football field.
But that’s what can happen when you’re a no-nonsense defensive tackle flanked on the line by a stable of high-profile ends, including an All-American who might just be the best pure pass rusher in college football.
B.J. Hill isn’t all that interested in the attention, anyway.
He knows that when Bradley Chubb or one of his other NC State teammates gets a sack, it’s usually because he did his job well, too.
And regardless of who gets the credit or weekly awards, as Chubb has for the past two games, everyone gets to share equally in the winning postgame celebrations that are becoming increasingly more frequent for the Wolfpack this season.
“We’ve got a strong bond together, all of us in the D-line room,” Hill said. “I think it plays a big role in our play, because I know I can trust the people beside me, no matter who it is. I’m not going to be down because (someone else) got the sack and I didn’t. I’m glad. I love taking on double teams. That’s my job, so if they get the sack, I’m happy for them.”
Hill, a West Stanly High graduate, ranks seventh on the Wolfpack in tackles with 17 to go along with one sack and one quarterback hurry this season. The numbers on a stat sheet, however, aren’t the most accurate way of measuring his importance to the team.
His primary task is to disrupt the other team’s offense by clogging up the middle and engaging as many blockers as possible. Sometimes he’s able to break through and make the play himself. More times than not, his efforts — along with those of fellow tackle Justin Jones — succeed in freeing up lanes for ends Chubb, Darius Roseboro and Kentavius Street to do the damage.
It’s an effort that might go unnoticed by fans in the stands at Carter-Finley Stadium, but not by Hill’s coaches and teammates, who voted him the co-winner of State’s Bo Rein Award for vital contribution in an unsung role last season.
“They take out the double-teams and allow us to get run-throughs,” Chubb said of the Hill and the other tackles inside. “We want to help them out as much as they help us, so when we see an open gap we try to fill it as fast as we can. They do a great job.”
It’s a system that’s worked out well thus far. State ranks third in the ACC in sacks with 13 and leads the league in rushing defense at 85.6 per game on the way to a 4-1 start heading into Thursday’s nationally televised ACC Atlantic Division showdown against Louisville. Among the Wolfpack’s victories is an upset of Florida State in Tallahassee, by far the most important in the five-year tenure of coach Dave Doeren.
It’s a success that’s especially sweet for Hill, who learned never to take winning for granted while suffering through a winless season during his junior year with the Colts.
“That was a long season, because I got hurt and only played in the first game,” said Hill, who bounced back as a senior to not only excel on defense, but also lead the team with 819 rushing yards and five touchdowns as a fullback on offense. “That year taught me that whenever you lose, all you can do is just move on to the next game and strive to be better.”
It also reminded him that winning is a lot more fun than losing, regardless of who gets the credit.
“Even though I don’t get all the hype of both of the ends, it really doesn’t matter to me,” Hill said. “I just love playing ball and doing my job well so we all can have success at the end of the day.”