Ohio State Overview: A talented linebacker and a rock solid citizen off the field, Justin Hilliard is determined to make the most of his final season wearing the Scarlet and Gray … an Achilles injury cut short his 2019 spring drills, but he’s coming off a 2018 campaign that saw him play in 13 of 14 games for the Big Ten and Rose Bowl champions while making 20 tackles – 14 solo – and forcing two pass breakups … in addition to his linebacker play, is also a valued and productive member of Ohio State’s special team’s unit … tied for the team lead with six special team’s tackles in 2018, three of which were inside the 20 yard line … made his first career start vs. Minnesota and had a career-high five tackles … earned his first Varsity O letter in 2017 by playing in all 14 games for the Buckeyes … contributed 14 tackles on the season … this after he missed much of two seasons with separate biceps injuries with the second coming during the 2016 season after Hilliard had played in each of the team’s first three games … he made four tackles in the first game he played in as a Buckeye, vs. Bowling Green … he graduated in May 2019 with his degree in marketing …he has earned Academic All-Big Ten Conference and OSU Scholar-Athlete honors for his classroom work.
Notable Note: Hilliard spent a week in Quepos, Costa Rica, in May of 2018 as part of a community service initiative to engage local youth in sports-related and life skills activities … this past summer, he was one of five players who had an externship at the WWE Headquarters in Orlando, Fla. to learn about the ins and outs of the professional wrestling business.
Honors and Awards
2018: OSU Scholar-Athlete
2017: Academic All-Big Ten Conference, OSU Scholar-Athlete
More on Justin: Hilliard was a 5-star recruit by both 247Sports and ESPN and one of the top linebacker prospects in his recruiting class … rated as the No. 1 outside linebacker by ESPN and No. 2 by 247Sports, and the No. 1 inside linebacker by Rivals … also held lofty overall rankings of No. 17 on the ESPN 300, No. 30 by 247Sports and No. 45 on the Rivals 250 … PrepSports ranked him No. 32 nationally and a member of its 150 Dream Team … Hilliard was a finalist as a senior for the Dick Butkus Award and he was an Associated Press all-state selection and its Division I defensive player of the year … helped lead coach Steve Specht’s St. Xavier team to a 10-3 record in 2014 and a state semifinals appearance after recording 71 tackles and five quarterback sacks … had 76 tackles, four sacks and seven passes defensed in 2013 … named a U.S. Army All-American but did not play as he was recovering from a knee injury … is the son of Diane and Carl Hilliard … older brother, C.J., was a running back for Ohio University.