The name Dontrell Hilliard probably isn't recognized by most NFL fans. I caught a whiff of it last year. But with Duke Johnson asking to be traded and absent during voluntary workouts, Dontrell Hilliard was getting more looks. The coaches speak very highly of him. His college coaches couldn't say enough about his work ethic and how he made sure everyone on the team finished their gassers and completed their reps.
He grew up in an area that he called a "war zone." You had to be careful about who you hung out with. He takes his role as the oldest of four siblings very seriously. He is proud that his younger siblings take school very seriously. He did. He wanted to be a civil engineer and wound up at a private university (Tulane). He earned a degree in digital design. He is ready for life when football ends.
Hilliard has some speed, he ran a 4.42 40 at his pro day. But at 5' 11" and 202 lbs he isn't going to displace Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt in any feature role. He may be able to be a third down back and catch passes out of the backfield like Duke Johnson did.
But Hilliard has heart. He will give it his best effort and do anything to get on the field. He credits his parents with instilling in him the kind of values that have gotten him to where he is today and that will hold him in good stead for the rest of his life. Both his parents, Abe Watson and Rhonda Hilliard, work in the foods industry. This is how he characterizes what they taught him:
"If you've got to go clean this, it's going to be the cleanest thing you've ever seen,” he said. “That's how we go about doing it. If I've got to do it, it's going to be done right.”
You have to root for a guy like that.
Browns running back Dontrell Hilliard is fearless in his pursuit of a role in NFL | cleveland.com