Benjamin Zack, AP
OGDEN — Jay Hill enthusiastically took charge of the Weber State football program Thursday at Stewart Stadium. The former Utah assistant was officially introduced as head coach of the Wildcats at a late morning press conference.
“I am so excited to be here,” Hill said. “And I’m excited to get out in the community, get our players out in the community and just serve — create a good product that people want to come to on Saturdays.”
Hill is the 11th head coach in team history. The 38-year-old makes the move to the Big Sky Conference school after nine seasons as a full-time assistant on Kyle Whittingham’s staff at Utah.
“Jay has done a great job for our program for a number of years in many capacities and we will miss him,” Whittingham said. “He is one of the top special teams coaches in the country and he is ready to become a head coach. We wish him all the best as he takes the next step in his coaching career.”
During his tenure with the Utes, Hill served as special teams coordinator and position coach for tight ends, running backs and cornerbacks. He was a graduate and administrative assistant from 2001-04.
In his playing days, Hill was a star defensive back at Ricks College and Utah. He played briefly with the XFL’s Orlando Rage and signed free agent contracts with the NFL’S Buffalo Bills and New York Giants.
“He’ll make a great head coach,” said Utah safeties coach Morgan Scalley. “Jay is a guy with a ton of experience on both sides of the football, really in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams.”
Scalley also praised Hill for being a great recruiter who has done a great job in the state of Utah and knows the landscape well. He also considers him a guy with a lot of energy and a ton of great ideas.
“We’re going to miss him for a lot of different reasons. As good of a coach he is, he’s an even better man,” Scalley said. “I’m fired up for him and excited for the opportunity he has. Weber State is getting a heckuva coach.”
The Wildcats think so.
“We believe — and I believe — that Jay Hill is uniquely aligned with the attributes that we were looking for in a head football coach,” said athletic director Jerry Bovee. “We’re excited to welcome Jay to our Wildcat family.”
In his introductory remarks, Bovee reeled off a list of attributes that Weber State sought in its new coach. They included someone who valued academic success, the well-being of student-athletes, compliance to rules, a strong connection to Utah high school programs, a recruiting emphasis based in the state and in key strategic areas within the West, a person with a good understanding of the school’s unique culture and a commitment to establishing a strong and vibrant tradition of success.
“We wanted someone who was a proven and respected leader that would continue to build our program the right way with the right type of student athletes and who would do it with the utmost honesty (and) integrity,” Bovee said.
Bovee’s search was comprehensive. He spoke to a lot of folks about all of the candidates for the job. In his review of Hill, Bovee touched base with guys like Eric Weddle, Urban Meyer, Gary Andersen and Whittingham, as well as other coaches that worked with Hill at Utah. Bovee said Andersen was especially responsive in reaching out about Hill.
“We talked to a lot of different people but he’s the only one I offered the job to,” Bovee said. “And there were just a lot of things that aligned right with Jay’s philosophies and what we want to do here at Weber State that made it a perfect fit.”
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