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April 29, 2011The tiny town of Crawford, Miss., has produced such talents as NFL great Jerry Rice and former NBA forward Clarence Weatherspoon.
But there is also a story of a star that never made the professional spotlight after his life was cut short following a 1997 drowning accident. That is the well-known local story of former Mississippi State and West Lowndes running back Keffer McGee.
Now 14 years later another Crawford native, Brandon Hill, plans to complete McGee's legacy with the Bulldogs and once again give the Lowndes County community something to be proud of.
In February 2009, Hill turned down an early Arkansas offer to follow in his childhood idol's footsteps to Starkville.
"I'm very happy because I feel like I'm here for a reason," Hill said. "I'm here for Keffer McGee. I'm here to finish his story. I want to be an inspiration to my community as well as my high school."
Hill spent his rookie season with the Bulldogs as a redshirt learning the ropes and packing on the pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame.
"I feel like (redshirting) was the best thing that could ever happen to me," Hill said. "I got a year under my belt in school as well as learning the offense getting stronger, bigger and faster."
Hill was signed as a two-star athlete in the 2010 class and shuffled around the MSU roster during the first few weeks of fall camp before finding a home at tight end.
"When I first came in I was at linebacker," Hill said. "Then they moved me to receiver and now I'm at tight end. They understand we need athleticism at that position. Now that (Marcus) Green is about to leave somebody has got to step up. They saw that I was the best fit for Green leaving so it worked out good."
The former Panther standout excelled on both sides of the ball at the prep level. Hill hauled in 23 catches for 269 yards and two touchdowns at tight end while recording 64 tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries, three pass deflections and three interceptions returning one for a touchdown on defense.
But playing at the Class 1A level in high school and making the transition to practicing at a Southeastern Conference school was quite a drastic change at first for Hill.
"It was a tremendous jump," Hill said. "But as I started learning the game started to slow down for me. Now I feel like I'm in a good position but still have a lot to grow. It's slowing down, I've just got to progress."
Hill received many of the first team reps at tight end this spring with Green and Kendric Cook out of contact drills which helped him finds some flaws in his game that he intends to correct over the summer.
"Spring went well," Hill said. "There are just a lot of things I need to clean up on. I'm learning it, I just need to clean up on and play fast."