At this time last year, we thought Hilton was going to be the next big thing at safety. Then, about two months later, we thought he was going to be the next big thing at slot receiver. Now he’s back. Is he still the next big thing?
His skillset says "yes." He’s the type of versatile, fluid athlete that (while not as fast) calls to mind Anthony Sherrils. As we discussed with Thomas Wilson, though, Hilton’s highs will be higher and his lows will be lower manning the defensive backfield for the Tigers, so his biggest utility while Sherrils is still on campus may come in playing designed series to spell Wilson as well as subbing in for extra-defensive back packages.
We didn't really know what to think of Cam Hilton's role on the 2016 Mizzou football team. He showed massive athletic potential while playing on both sides of the ball as a true freshman, but simply because of need, it was almost a little surprising when he moved back to safety this year -- Mizzou had a couple of relatively proven options at safety and basically none at receiver.
Four weeks into the season, the receiving corps has proven its depth to some degree (I'm still worried about how much Drew Lock, uh, locks onto J'Mon Moore against good teams), and Hilton has butted his way into the safety rotation. He is now listed as a co-starter with Anthony Sherrils, a player good (and fast) enough that we were wondering if he might explore the NFL waters after this season.
"His athletic ability is different than some, and in a good way," first-year MU coach Barry Odom said. "He’s got to slow down just a little bit, if that makes sense, and really have his eyes in the right spot. He’s so quick, sometimes he gets out of position, because he’s not trusting exactly what he’s seeing. That comes with reps and that comes with a little bit of experience. He’s got a chance of being a really good player."
That’s because Hilton is beginning to understand the dedication — to his craft, in practice, to film study — it takes to transform his elite ability into making him an elite playmaker at the college level.
"He needs to grow up and really focus on practicing well, so he can help us out even more," Scherer said.
Over the last two games, Hilton has four solo tackles, two assists, an interception, and two pass breakups. He was also a lead blocker of sorts for Chris Black when Black ripped off a 51-yard punt return against Delaware State. (He also appeared to get mad at Black for not cutting back and scoring, which was fantastic:
It's safe to say we're still a little wary of the second cornerback spot in the secondary, and I'm still concerned with the pass rush, but Hilton's breakthrough provides Mizzou with another defensive weapon when opponents decide to pass. Now I guess we just have to see how much LSU decides to pass this coming Saturday.