Justin Hilliard’s journey at Ohio State never went exactly according to plan, but the linebacker ended his career on a tear to boost his stock for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Rated as a five-star prospect and No. 35 player nationally for the 2015 recruiting class, Hilliard had all the makings of a star linebacker as an in-state product out of Cincinnati. Unfortunately, he battled multiple injuries throughout his collegiate career that derailed his progress.

After the 2019 season, Hilliard was granted the opportunity to return to the Buckeyes for a sixth year, and he excelled in 2020. He finished fourth on the team with 33 total tackles and led the team with five tackles for loss. Hilliard also shined in Ohio State’s two CFP games, amassing 16 total tackles, three tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery.

On Friday morning, it was Jim Nagy – the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl and long-time NFL scout – highlighting one play by Hilliard from the Senior Bowl that illustrated some of his strong work in boosting his draft stock. It was a textbook play in coverage by Hilliard, something teams will be looking for out of linebackers in the current era of the NFL.

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Talent was never the issue for Hilliard, and it is great to see him healthy and putting things together heading toward the draft. Hopefully he lands at a good destination to begin his NFL career.