Hill Predicts Success For D'Brick
As the two engulfed each others' massive right hands in a simple and customary introduction, the legendary barricading lineman of Jets' past was subconsciously passing along his throne to the club's rising son.
At the 35 th annual Joe Namath/John Dockery Football Camp on July 12 th, rookie left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson was introduced to various renowned Jets of yore. Perhaps the most influential was Winston Hill, the distinguished left tackle who was one of the greatest to ever don a Green & White jersey.
Hill made a name for himself in the 1960's and 1970's as one of the premier offensive linemen in both the AFL and eventually the NFL. Due to his extraordinary blocking skills and versatile pass protection, he was used at both left tackle and right tackle. He defended the blindside of Joe Namath for six years and opened holes for such backs as Matt Snell, John Riggins and Emerson Boozer. Hill's 14-year career with the Jets consists of the Super Bowl III victory over the Baltimore Colts and numerous individual accomplishments including being named to the All-Time Jets Team, and also being selected to the AFL All Star team /NFL Pro Bowl team eight times.
With all of his experience and success at the position, Hill matches up to be the ideal mentor for Ferguson, especially at this stage of his blossoming career. Still shy of his first official professional training camp, Ferguson has already gained a great deal admiration and confidence from the great Jets tackle by way of both his mental and physical stature.
"I'm excited that he's coming to the Jets because of the combination of the skills that he brings with the type of person that he is; he's a great addition to the club." proclaimed Hill, standing healthy and tall at 64-years old. "He looks like a tight end and plays like a tackle. He has all the skills, he has the feet, and he has the attitude. He is going to be a great one."
Stepping into the hot New York spotlight regardless of sport, age, or talent often proves problematic for many athletes. Because Ferguson has experienced a lot of hype and popularity from his dominance at the University of Virginia, he appears ready to make the transition to a national stage. According to Hill, the evolution has already begun to take place, as Ferguson is far more equipped than most athletes he has known.
"I think about of all the people that I have met from my playing days until now; he's as well prepared if not more prepared then 95% of them," said Hill, who was a part of the inaugural Jets season in 1963. "In addition, he's very personable, which will go a long way with the people around him."
Easing some of the pressure of heading into a new environment usually calls for some expert advice. Hill graciously offered what words of wisdom he could for Ferguson as he readies to embark on his professional journey. While he admits that most positions in the NFL have evolved throughout the past few decades, Hill feels that the games changes are far too scrutinized, and Ferguson should have no problem adapting in any case.
"It's all just football, it requires athleticism. He has it and he's ready for it, you can sense it in his attitude," said the elder tackle. "At this point his cup is just about full and everything else, all the other advice will just kind of spill over. You can tell what's God-given and he has all of it, he just needs to listen to his body. His body will be true to him."