STARKVILLE Kylin Hill was considered one of the top running back recruits in the country coming out of Columbus High School in 2017.

The former four-star prospect had no shortage of scholarship offers but chose to attend Mississippi State, a short 30-minute drive from his family.

“It was very important for me to stay close to home so my entire family can come see me play and cheer me on,” Hill said. “The people in my hometown and even here in Starkville tell me how happy and glad they are I chose to stay. I could’ve went anywhere but I chose to stay and basically be a neighborhood hero.”

Hill hit the field right away in the Bulldogs’ backfield as a true freshman and took on a starting role as a sophomore last season, rushing for 734 yards and totaling eight touchdowns despite missing two games to injury.

This fall, however, Hill has taken his game to another level. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks ninth nationally with 596 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 108 attempts. He is averaging 119.2 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry and has eclipsed the century mark on the ground in four of MSU’s first five games.

Hill also tops the conference with 344 yards after contact, 21 runs of over 10 yards and 32 first down carries.

“It’s going very well but to me, you can always be better,” Hill said. “So far it’s been going really smooth. The wide receivers catching the ball takes a lot of pressure off me so (defenses) won’t crowd the box. But it all starts with the offensive line and then me knowing my plays and how to read defenses.”

Hill is working under his third running backs coach in as many years but has developed a strong relationship with Terry Richardson, a former Syracuse standout and NFL tailback in his own right.

“We’re real close,” Hill said. “He always just tells me that he’s on my side and is always going to take care of me. If I listen to him, he’s going to get me where I need to be.”

Joe Moorhead has traditionally developed dynamic running backs within his offense and believes Hill ranks right up there with the best he’s ever coached.

“Kylin’s a guy that has small back skill in a big back body,” Moorhead said. “He’s a guy that can run tough between the tackles and get you four or five (yards) when it’s maybe meant for two or three. He’s a guy that when he gets on the perimeter can run by you or make people miss. I think that’s what makes him unique and why he’s having a good year.”

Twitter: @loganlowery

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