At 5-feet 9-inches and a mere 184-pounds, Mike Hilton has always been viewed as a target on the football field. You know, an opposing offense will see Hilton in the defensive secondary, and decide he is the player they are going to pick on.
This has happened Hilton’s entire career, and continued into his first year with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017 when he set the fan base ablaze with his tremendous play as the team’s nickel/slot cornerback.
Last season Hilton tallied 64 total tackles, 16 solo tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions and 6 pass defenses.
Not too bad for a player everyone essentially left on the NFL scrap heap after going undrafted out of Ole Miss.
What motivates Hilton? After all these years he tells Teresa Varley of the Steelers official website it is his size.
“To be honest, my size. If you look at me, people are going to attack me and not expect me to play the way I do. I take that and play with a chip on my shoulder.”
And his size has been a common thread for him throughout his football career. It was what he listed as his biggest challenge in the game.
“A lot of people tell me you can’t do it because of your size. That is all I heard. I knew with my ability, I could play with anybody. I just don’t look the part. I catch people off guard.”
Catch people off guard he certainly did in 2017, and the Steelers will want a duplicate performance in 2018 as they hope to bring the Lombardi trophy back to Pittsburgh for the seventh time.
Ultimately, it is confidence and a pure love for the game which has helped Hilton get to where he is today.
“Just playing with confidence. I knew I had it in me. I have taken those steps, high school, college and now the pros. Just being confident in my ability.”
It is all about the love for the game of football.
“For the love of the game. It’s something I have been doing since I was young. It’s something I just love to go out there and do. It’s stress free, doing what you have been doing for so long and having fun with it. You just react and use your instincts.”
Hilton is essentially a starter, and helps make up one of the most improved position groups on the Steelers’ roster heading into the regular season. After looking at his 2017 stat line, you have to wonder what he has in store for 2018.
Steelers fans can’t wait to find out!