Quarterback Collin Hill will miss the remainder of the 2016 season after the freshman tore his ACL in his left knee during Saturday’s 31-24 win against Utah State, coach Mike Bobo confirmed on Monday.
“It was non-contact, he was just planting off his left foot and it buckled,” Bobo said. “Tough thing for Collin, tough for our football team, but we have confidence in Nick Stevens that he is going to come out and play well. I have confidence that Collin will rehab and be back with us this spring.”
Bobo said that he was informed of the probable injury after Hill came back onto the field from the locker room after being evaluated when he left the game, but an MRI on Sunday confirmed the news.
Hill’s injury occurred on a 19-yard scramble as the Rams faced second-and-twenty from the Utah State 40-yard line as the team was driving to tie the game.
The injury happened as Hill was fighting for extra yardage on the play, but Bobo said that he thought his quarterback was just trying to make a play, and he tells his quarterbacks to be smart and protect themselves outside of the pocket, he understands what Hill was trying to do in that situation.
“He got out of the pocket and he saw he had chance to make the first down,” Bobo said. “I think any football player would try to make the first-down in that situation. Non-contact, that’s how ACL’s happen. It wasn’t because he was (fighting). It could happen because he slid. Sometimes when you plant, a lot of them happen that way.”
Hill, a freshman from Moore, South Carolina , saw his first action in the fourth quarter of the team’s week two game against the University of Texas San-Antonio in relief of senior quarterback Faton Bauta.
Hill made his first collegiate start one week later against the University of North Colorado, where he threw for four touchdowns and 315-yards on 21-27 passing.
For the season, Hill completed 75 of his 129 passes for 1,096-yards and eight scores to go along with two interceptions.
Hill finishes the year with a 2-2 record as the number-one quarterback.
It is a tough break for the true freshman, who had finally initiated a spark in the CSU passing offense when he was inserted into the starting lineup.
After Hill was hurt, former starter in junior Nick Stevens stepped in at quarterback and helped guide the Rams on two more scoring drives in the eventual 31-24 win.
Going forward, Bobo said that Stevens will be the starting quarterback, while Bauta will continue to be used in specific situations.
On Saturday against Boise State, Stevens will be making his first start since the team’s week one loss to the University of Colorado when Stevens was benched after an ineffective performance.
“I believe the foundation has been laid that the team is not going to blink an eye,” Bobo said of the changeover from Hill to Stevens. “We are going to miss Collin and some of the things that he can do and some of the things he brought to this offense. But there are also some positives that Nick has, and we are going to build the game plan around him now.”
After he was benched, Bobo said that Stevens continued to be a leader and he handled the situation as good as any player could have. Stevens continued to prepare like he was the starter, and because of that, Stevens was prepared to enter the game when Hill went down against Utah State and he is prepared to move forward as the starter this season.
Bobo said that he expects Hill to get surgery within the next couple weeks, and that Hill should be back for non-contact portions of spring practice. Because of the position Hill plays, a non-contact position to begin with, Bobo was hopeful that Hill would return within a six month timeline, though that all depends on the recovery process.
“Im sure (Hill) was distraught when it happened, he was a little distraught after the game when it kind of sunk in,” Bobo said. “That’s football, you are gonna have injuries, you are going to have setbacks, you are going to have adversity. He is a well grounded young man that is going to handle it I think extremely well.”
Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @Eric_Wolf5