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Ike Hilliard becomes UFL WR, coach

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Ike Hilliard becomes UFL WR, coach

Post  56 Crazed Dogs on Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:03 am

He says he can still play, could still handle punt return duties and give an NFL squad prime field position. He could still be valuable as a third-down specialist, could still "catch 50 balls in my sleep."

But for former Giant receiver Ike Hilliard, none of that matters. He hasn't filed his retirement papers yet, but he says his playing days are over, and he's moved on. Just two years ago, he was suiting up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but these days, he's coaching. Next month, he'll begin his first full year as receivers coach for the Florida Tuskers in the United Football League.

"It's fun," says Hilliard, 34. "I made the transition as soon as I was done playing. Now, I'm just along for the ride. Being a coach is a totally different animal (than playing)."

Hilliard has adjusted to coaching quickly, partly because his injury-marred career prepared him well. He arrived in New York with plenty of fanfare in 1997; the Giants had chosen him with the seventh pick of the draft following a record-setting career at the University of Florida.

Instead, he landed on the injured reserve. In his second game that year Hilliard suffered a neck injury, and doctors had to fuse two vertebrae, ending his season. He bounced back the next season with 715 receiving yards, but would battle injuries for the rest of his eight years with Big Blue. The worst came in 2002, when a nagging toe injury limited him to seven games and permanently robbed him of his shiftiness.

Hilliard left the squad and signed with the Bucs in 2004. But he was a shadow of his formerly explosive self, and after sustaining a concussion on a vicious hit from Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill and getting released in 2008, Hilliard decided he was done.

"The thing that's sad about my situation is how much time I missed because of injury," he says. "Not being a guy who was always in the weight room is why I wasn't always healthy. But I can't take that back."

Not that he minds. As his athleticism declined, Hilliard paid attention to football's subtleties. Long before Sean Payton was leading New Orleans to Super Bowl glory, he was the Giants' offensive coordinator, and Hilliard remembers Payton's attention to detail.

"The matchups he created through game-planning intrigued me," he recalls. "It was a no-brainer to get involved with coaching."

Getting involved was easy. In Tampa, he'd gotten to know offensive assistant Jay Gruden, brother of former Bucs head coach Jon. Shortly after Jay was named Tuskers offensive coordinator in 2009, Hilliard asked him if he could hang around some coaching sessions. Gruden and head coach Jim Haslett had other ideas, naming Hilliard volunteer receivers coach. Now, the job is his and he can't wait for training camp to begin.

"I had a hell of a time last year," Hilliard says. "Now, I'm studying hard to do the best I can."



Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/2010/07/24/2010-07-24_ike_hilliard_former_new_york_giants_wide_receiver_catches_on_as_ufl_coach.html#ixzz0uhd4QPEk
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Re: Ike Hilliard becomes UFL WR, coach

Post  56 Crazed Dogs on Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:07 am

Ike is one of those players I loved to root for.
It's unfortunate that he was injured far too often.

Thought this was an interesting quote:
"The thing that's sad about my situation is how much time I missed because of injury," he says. "Not being a guy who was always in the weight room is why I wasn't always healthy. But I can't take that back."

Only hope the best for him in his coaching journey. I think he'll make a good one. Maybe we'll see him as a position coach in the nfl some day.
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