Aaron Hill fought hard for a chance to win a spot on the St. Louis Rams, but on Aug. 30, Hill found out that he didn’t make the cut.
The 6-foot-2, 231-pound linebacker from St. Charles who played in college at Minnesota only wanted a chance.
“I’m happy to be playing football,” Hill said after a practice at Rams Park in Earth City. “My last game was a bowl game in college. It’s a great feeling to be playing the game I love.
“All my hard work paid off for me. I’ve been playing football for 13, 14 years. To (have the possibility) to play for the hometown NFL team is a great feeling. The only thing I can say is God put me here for a purpose.
Hill walked on the team at Minnesota. After a redshirt year, he played four seasons with the Golden Gophers. He won a full scholarship, too.
After not being drafted, Hill was signed by the Rams as a free agent. That’s a tough route to go to make it with an NFL team but it’s been done.
Hill is determined to succeed. He was successful in high school before college.
Hill went to Lutheran-St. Charles High. His coach was Doug Kuhlmann, who is now the athletic director.
Kuhlmann believes Hill can achieve of his dream of playing in the NFL. He certainly would not count him out.
“Anyone who has ever known Aaron as an individual is quick to point out that he has a sensible demeanor and a good head on his shoulders, which allow him to achieve his goals, even when confronted with obstacles,” Kuhlmann said. “Between his work ethic, his perseverance, and his blend of intelligence and football smarts, he has a great future as a football player.
“More importantly, when his playing career has concluded, he will make a wonderful professional, father, and Christian young man.”
When he graduated from high school, Hill had offers to some low-level Division I programs as well as Division I-AA. He had his sights set higher.
“Coming from a small school, they say it’s hard to noticed,” Hill said. “But if you can play, they will find you. Everything has happened to work out pretty good for me.
“I went to Minnesota and walked on. I earned a scholarship and ended up starting and playing three years at linebacker. Everything worked out real good there. All that hard work paid off.”
Hill went Minnesota for “purely an academic visit.” He stopped by and talked to the football coaches and told them he was interested. They invited him to their training camp.
That set his mind to try Minnesota. It was Division I football in the Big Ten, one of the nation’s premier conferences.
“I knew as soon as I got on the campus, I wanted to go to Minnesota,” Hill said. “It was a great college experience.”
Kuhlmann was not surprised Hill did well in college.
“Once he made the decision to walk on and Minnesota, I had absolutely no doubt that he would make the team and be given the full ride scholarship,” Kuhlmann said. “As a middle school student, Aaron told me that his dream was to be a star at Lutheran High, play Division I football, and make an NFL roster.
“When he puts his mind to something, there is rarely a situation that he doesn’t achieve his goals.” Hill’s father, Sam, was a football coach for 33 years before he retired. Hill began playing in the fourth grade.
He enjoyed a solid high school career for the Cougars in St. Charles. Hill earned first-team all-state selection as a senior and earned AAA’s Player of the Year honors as a senior. He earned all-conference honors as a running back and linebacker in both his junior and senior seasons as well as all-conference honors as a linebacker as a sophomore.His name is in the school record book as Hill holds records for touchdowns scored (46).
Besides football, Hill also was a standout on the basketball court. He was a two-time all-conference selection and a two-time team MVP on the hardwood. Hill holds No. 4 spot in school history with 611 rebounds.
He also qualified for track and field state championship meet in 2008 and 2009, earning all-state honors both seasons.
“Aaron had an incredible career in our football program,” Kuhlmann said. “As a four-year starter for us, he excelled on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. I think the thing that stands out most to me was his work ethic and desire to see the team succeed.
“He realized at a young age that personal success was only achieved when the team succeeded, which was an awesome example for everyone in the program. Aaron was a leader from the first moment he put on the silver helmet of the Cougars. He was never the rah-rah kind of leader, rather the lead-by-example type. He was one of the first out to practice, and one of the last to leave.”
Hill had a pro day at Minnesota for pro scouts. He thought it went pretty well. So it was wait and see what happened in the NFL Draft in May.
After the first two days of the draft, Hill thought he would be selected sometime on the final day when rounds four through seven were held. He was still in Minnesota finishing school.
“There were a lot of stressful moments, a lot of anxiety. The draft played out and I didn’t get a phone call,” Hill said. “I wasn’t too disappointed. I felt pretty good I’d get an opportunity. My agent had said he had talked to a few teams and they were really interested. I didn’t know how it would play out.
“Right after the draft, I got a phone call from the Rams. They wanted to sign me as an undrafted free agent. I said I was ready. It took me about one second to agree. As soon as I heard it, I thought I’m going back home.”