By TOM LEA
MADISON – Wisconsin had coach Bret Bielema has been very impressed with the way Darius Hillary has played during his young career at Wisconsin. During Sunday’s media day press conference he said he and his defensive staff decided to move Hillary to free safety.
Following Wednesday’s morning practice we caught up with Hillary to talk about the positional change. The following is a question and answer with the redshirt freshman.
I just wanted to talk about your position change from corner back to safety. How did that come about?
Hillary: The coaches came up to me and they said they think I can play more than one position. They kind of went from there and I just kind of took it in stride.
It didn’t catch you off guard at all? You were pretty much open to it as soon as it was brought up?
Hillary: Yes so. I was open to it because they had kind of warned me about it, or kind of told me about it, last year. So as soon as they made that switch I got right into it and haven’t really missed a beat.
So this was your fourth practice at safety? And are you at free safety? You’re set there? You’re not moving around?
Hillary: Right now I’m just at free, but who knows. Anything can come up. I just want to make sure I know every position that they put me at and excel at it.
Take me back to the recruiting process. Did they expect you to come in as a corner? Was that how you were recruited or did they say they would play you somewhere in the secondary? How did that come about?
Hillary: Well first, when coach Joe Rudolph was here, he offered me as a corner the summer going into my senior year. They took all the corners that they had and they brought me back in as a receiver. Once another one of the defensive backs that committed couldn’t get in they offered me as a corner again. I was just all over the place.
Where are you more comfortable at? I know you’re only four practices in at safety, but are you feeling comfortable there? Were you pretty comfortable at corner?
Hillary: I can be comfortable at safety. I have no problem with it. I just want to make sure I get all the calls and everything down. It’s pretty much just like that.
Would you have like to have known that this was going to happen before you went through summer conditioning? Is there a different approach you would have taken to prepare for a season at safety as compared to what you did as a cornerback?
Hillary: I kind of did, just talking with some of the guys on the team. Some of the coaches said I should make sure to know both because certain things can happen. Obviously I took that to heart during the summer so I actually learned both. Now that I’m actually here it’s not a shock to me.
Coach Bielema said you looked natural out there the other night when he talked to us.
Hillary: Yes sir. I played it my junior year of high school so it’s nothing new to me. I’ve just got to learn some of the calls. It actually opens your eyes to everything that happens on the defense.
Was that move made partially to get you on the field faster? What do you think? Did you feel log-jammed at all at corner?
Hillary: I would say kind of, but not really. Obviously we all want to come out here, compete and do what we’re supposed to. In a sense, I feel like yes, it could have been so I have some chance of getting on the field at some time this year.
So what are your personal goals the rest of camp? You guys have two and a half weeks before the first game. What are your personal goals?
Hillary: Personal goals for me, one is to stay healthy and be proactive with everything I do so I don’t get re-injured. Second, just like I was talking about with the coaches, just learning and excelling at any position they put me at just because there are a bunch of different spots I could be moved to.
What was your injury last year? Can you remind me?
Hillary: Last year was a hamstring. It was nothing serious. It was kind of a couple weeks. That and then my groin.
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