Ike Hilliard

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Ike Hilliard
Ike hilliard image.jpg
Hilliard during his time as a player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2008
Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: Wide receivers coach
Personal information
Born: (1976-04-05) April 5, 1976 (age 45)
Patterson, Louisiana
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school: Patterson (LA)
College: Florida
NFL Draft: 1997  / Round: 1 / Pick: 7
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:161
Games started:105
Receptions:546
Receiving yards:6,397
Touchdowns:35
Player stats at NFL.com  ·  PFR

Isaac Jason Hilliard (born April 5, 1976) is a former American football wide receiver and current wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Florida, and earned All-American honors. He was a first-round pick by the New York Giants in the 1997 NFL Draft, and also played professionally for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Contents

Early years

Hilliard was born in Patterson, Louisiana in 1976. [1] He attended Patterson High School, [2] where he was a star high school football player for the Patterson Lumberjacks. During his senior year, he played quarterback, wingback, wide receiver and free safety. That year, he rushed for 737 yards and 12 touchdowns, caught 20 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns, had 45 tackles and intercepted five passes. He was rated among the top 10 defensive backs in the Southeast, but he had his heart set on playing wide receiver. [3]

College career

Hilliard accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played wide receiver for coach Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators football team from 1994 to 1996 although never having played the position before. [4] During his three seasons as a Gator, the team won three SEC Championships in 1994, 1995, and 1996. As a junior in 1996, he was paired with fellow Gators receiver Reidel Anthony and both posted 1,000-yard seasons, and both Hilliard and Anthony were recognized as first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selections and consensus first-team All-Americans, [4] [5] as the Gators won the Bowl Alliance national championship—their first-ever national football title. Hilliard's efforts made him a semi-finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 1996. The Gators finished the season with a record of 12–1 after a 52–20 victory over the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles in the 1997 Sugar Bowl. [6] Hilliard had a sensational performance in the 1997 Sugar Bowl victory for Florida against their arch rival Florida State. His greatest play became known as the “STOP AND POP” as he snagged a Danny Wuerffel pass, took one hard step towards the end zone, then stopped on a dime as the Seminole defenders could only wave at him as he dashed the remaining 15 years to the end zone. It was the second of a Sugar Bowl-record three touchdowns for Hilliard and it gave the Gators a 24-10 advantage in what ended as a 52-20 Florida victory. [7] Memorably, he set three Sugar Bowl Records against the Seminoles at the time: he had 150 receiving yards, including an 82-yard touchdown catch, and scored a total of three touchdowns for eighteen points. [4]

Hilliard was among the members of the 11th Anniversary class inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. Hilliard's signature game against Georgia came in 1995, when he hauled in five passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns, as the Gators claimed a 52-17 victory over the Bulldogs. [8] He was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 2009. [9] [10]

Hilliard was honored as an SEC Legend in 2011. [11] [ circular reference ] He was chosen for The Florida Football All-Century Team, chosen by Gator fans and compiled by The Gainesville Sun in the fall of 1999. [12] Additionally, he was selected to The 100th-Anniversary Florida Team that was selected in 2006 to celebrate a century of Florida football. Fans voted by mail and online. [13] [14] [ circular reference ]

SEC Record Book [15] [16]

Florida Career Record Book [17] [ circular reference ] [18]

Sugar Bowl Record Book [19] [20]

Hilliard declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft after his junior season, and finished his college career with 126 receptions for 2,214 yards and twenty-nine touchdowns. [4] In a 2006 series published by The Gainesville Sun, he was recognized as No. 14 among the 100 all-time greatest Gator players from the first century of Florida football. [21]

Professional career

New York Giants

The New York Giants chose Hilliard in the first round (seventh pick overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft, [22] and he played his first eight seasons for the Giants from 1997 to 2004. [23] He became a regular starter in 1998, [23] helping the Giants shut out the Minnesota Vikings 41-0 in the NFC Championship Game. The New York wide receiver had 10 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns to help his team reach Super Bowl XXXV following the 2000 regular season. A string of injuries kept him from the field throughout his time with the Giants. During the second game of his rookie year, Hilliard was hit by Jacksonville safety Chris Hudson and sustained a sprained interspinous ligament between his sixth and seventh vertebrae. He underwent posterior spine stabilization surgery which fused the two vertebrae. [24] After an 8-month rehabilitation period, [25] Hilliard was named the Ed Block Courage Award recipient, voted for by their teammates as role models of inspiration, sportsmanship, and courage. He continued his level of play with disregard for his personal safety with a cringe-inducing medical record: bruised lungs and a bruised sternum in 2000; foot surgery before the 2001 season; a dislocated shoulder in 2002. [26] He finished his career with the Giants with 368 receptions for 4,630 yards and twenty-seven touchdowns. [1] After a distinguished career that includes ranking 6th in franchise history in receptions and 10th in receiving yards, [27] [28] on July 30, 2010, he signed a one-day contract to retire as a New York Giant. [29]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hilliard signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2004 season. During his first two seasons with Tampa Bay, he was used mainly as a third or fourth receiver, but in 2007 he started ten games making sixty-two receptions for 722 yards. [23] During his time with the Bucs, he became a third down specialist, 111 of 178 career catches resulting in a 1st down. Head Coach Jon Gruden referred to him as "Third and Ike". [30] On October 19, 2008, Hilliard refused to be carted off the field during a Sunday Night Football 20-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks after a helmet-to-helmet hit by Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill, who hit Hilliard in a head-on collision as Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu hit him from behind, forcing his body to go limp after making a catch in the second quarter. [31] After four seasons, Hilliard was released by the Buccaneers on February 25, 2009. [32] He was one of five veterans that the Bucs released on that day. The others were wide receiver Joey Galloway, running back Warrick Dunn and linebackers Derrick Brooks and Cato June. [33] The Bucs had previously fired Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Bruce Allen and were looking to build a younger team under the likes of Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik.

In his twelve-season NFL career, Hilliard appeared in 161 regular season games, started 105 of them, and made 546 catches for 6,397 yards and thirty-five touchdowns. [1] He also had 126 rushing yards on sixteen attempts. [1]

NFL career statistics

Receiving statistics [34]

YearTeamGPRecYardsAvgLngTDFDFumLost
1997 NYG 224221.0230200
1998 NYG 165171514.05022922
1999 NYG 167299613.84635000
2000 NYG 145578714.35984400
2001 NYG 145265912.73863600
2002 NYG 72738614.33822100
2003 NYG 136060810.13863822
2004 NYG 16494378.94302231
2005 TB 16352828.12212400
2006 TB 163433910.04421900
2007 TB 156272211.65613722
2008 TB 16474249.03643111
Career1615466,39711.75935353108

Returning statistics [34]

YearTeamGPPRYdsAvgLngTDFC
2004 NYG 164266.51500
2006 TB 16241636.81603
2007 TB 1515926.12004
2008 TB 163196.31107
Career63463006.520014

Coaching career

Florida Tuskers

Forced to retire after a string of injuries and nine surgeries, Hilliard became a volunteer receivers coach for the UFL's Florida Tuskers, a charter UFL franchise based in Orlando, Florida. In 2010, he became the Tuskers' new wide receivers coach for the season. He worked alongside Head Coach Jim Haslett and Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden. The Tuskers appeared in the first two UFL Championship Games, losing both to the Las Vegas Locomotives. In 2010, the league suspended the Tuskers' operations and moved the remnants of the team to Virginia Beach to assume the identity (and some executive staff) of a previously announced expansion team that was to begin play in 2011. [35] [36]

Miami Dolphins

In 2011, Hilliard returned to the NFL as an assistant wide receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins under Head Coach Tony Sparano assisting in the development of Brandon Marshall and Brian Hartline.

Washington Redksins

In 2012, Hilliard was hired by Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins as the wide receivers coach. He oversaw a unit that had four wide receivers with at least 500 receiving yards or more (Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan and Pierre Garçon). The Redskins ended the regular season with a 7-game winning streak to finish with a 10–6 record, leading to a NFC East division championship and a 4th seed spot in the playoffs. It was their first division title since 1999. [37] [ circular reference ]

Buffalo Bills

In 2013, the Buffalo Bills hired Hilliard as the wide receivers coach. [38] Hilliard oversaw a young group of receivers that included veteran Steve Johnson and rookies Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin.

Washington Redskins

In January 2014, Hilliard was reunited with Jay Gruden when the Head Coach named Hilliard the wide receivers coach of the Washington Redskins of the NFL. This would be his second stint with the Redskins reunited with a veteran unit that included Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson and Santana Moss. In the 2015 season, the Redskins made a return to the playoffs since their appearance in 2012. The Redskins would go on a 4-game winning streak to finish the season, and win the NFC East with a 9–7 record. However, the Redskins lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card round 35–18, ending their season. [39] During the 2019 season, Hilliard helped to develop a group of rookie wide receivers which included Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims. [40] McLaurin finished the season with 58 receptions for 919 yards and 7 touchdowns, and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team. [41]

Pittsburgh Steelers

Hilliard joined the Pittsburgh Steelers to be their wide receivers coach in February 2020. [42] Rookie Chase Claypool was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round, 49th overall, in the 2020 NFL Draft as the team's first selection. [43] Under Hilliard, Claypool became the first Steelers rookie in franchise history to score four touchdowns in a game, and the first Steeler since Roy Jefferson in 1968 to do so. [44] Claypool also became the only wide receiver in NFL history to accomplish this feat in the same game. His performance helped the team start out with a 4–0 record for the first time since 1979. [45] On October 14, 2020, Claypool was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Week 5. [46] Claypool would finish the season passing former Steelers wideout Troy Edwards for the most receptions by a rookie in franchise history, snagging his 62nd of the season on the touchdown pass from quarterback Mason Rudolph during Week 17. Claypool also tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris and former Steelers wide receiver Louis Lipps for the most touchdowns scored by a Steelers rookie in a single season with 11. Both records added to an already impressive first season for the former Notre Dame wideout, who won the Joe Greene Great Performance Award as the Steelers’ top rookie and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team. [47]

Personal life

Hilliard is the nephew of former New Orleans Saints running back Dalton Hilliard. His cousin Kenny Hilliard is a former NFL Player. He is married to Lourdes, his wife of 19 years, and has five children. After declaring for the 1997 NFL Draft as a true junior and spending 21 years in the NFL (as a player and coach), Hilliard returned to the University of Florida to complete his degree. [48] He worked as an NFL coach while quietly working to complete his degree from 2013 to 2018. [49]

See also

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