Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill opts out, declares for 2021 NFL draft

·4 min read

Kylin Hill’s time at Mississippi State has come to an end.

The senior running back announced Tuesday that he has decided to opt out of the remainder of the 2020 college football season and declare for the 2021 NFL draft.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision, but one that I feel is best for me at this time,” Hill wrote in an Instagram post.

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Hill emerged as one of the SEC’s top backs in 2019 when he rushed for 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns. Overall for his college career, Hill rushed for 2,535 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also caught 67 passes for 631 yards and six scores.

Hill played in just three games this year for Mississippi State, which is in its first season with Mike Leach as head coach. Hill caught eight passes for 158 yards and a touchdown in MSU’s upset win over LSU. Things have gone downhill for MSU since then. The Bulldogs are mired in a four-game losing streak and have struggled mightily on offense.

Hill hasn’t been on the field in a few weeks. Leach said recently he heard that Hill had decided to opt out and begin preparing for the NFL. On Tuesday, Hill confirmed that. He also thanked Leach for being “understanding” during a time when his family dealt with multiple hardships.

Hill’s role in changing Mississippi state flag

Hill made his mark at Mississippi State more than just on the football field. Back in June, Hill, a native of Columbus, Mississippi, said on Twitter that he would not be “representing this state anymore” until the Mississippi state flag was changed. The flag, at that point, featured a Confederate emblem.

Hill speaking out played a prominent role in the flag eventually being changed. With debate over the flag raging throughout the state, coaches from Mississippi’s eight public universities, including Leach and Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, gathered at the state legislature to call for the flag to be changed.

Before June ended and less than a week after Hill posted his tweet, the state legislature voted to remove the flag. A new design for the state flag was chosen in September and the new flag is on the ballot for voters in the state on Tuesday for approval.

In July, Hill was honored in his hometown by being given the key to the city. Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said that Hill took “a heroic stand in the face of adversity,” and noted how many “negative comments” he received for his tweet.

Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen said he believes Hill was a “spark that started something many people in this state fought for.”

"I think Kylin would be the first to tell you it's a team effort. Kylin is not defined by one tweet, but he's somebody who's not just a special member of the Mississippi State family, but is somebody who showed courage and there's no question we're awfully proud of him,” Cohen said the day Hill was honored.

Hill, in the message he posted Tuesday, said his work in his home state will continue even as he moves on to the NFL.

“Mississippi will always be my home,” Hill wrote. “We’ve made history together, both on and off the field, and as we move on to the next level, that work will only continue. Thank you!”

Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill (8) runs to the end zone for a touchdown against LSU cornerback Eli Ricks (1) and safety Todd Harris Jr. (4) on a pass reception in the second half an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Mississippi State won 44-34. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill (8) runs to the end zone for a touchdown against LSU on Sept. 26, 2020. Mississippi State won 44-34. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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