Giants safety Will Hill will be the first to admit he’s made his share of mistakes during his 23 years on Earth. But when discussing his most recent plight — a four-game suspension that will begin once the regular season starts — the third-year veteran is also quick to point out his ordeals are a great study in nature versus nurture.
Hill, who was slapped with the suspension from the league office, will be starting a season on the suspended list for the second-straight season, following last season’s positive testing of Adderall, a banned performance enhancing substance.
This time, Hill will serve his suspension for marijuana use, something that came up in a test unrelated to the Adderall testing. The ruling was held off until last week while Hill fought it. Hill, a product of East Orange, N.J., but a star high school player at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J., said he’s been through so many trials and tribulations during his young life and ceded that there were many times he needed an outlet to relieve the stress of growing up the way he did.
“It’s definitely disappointing, [because] being a professional athlete you’d think people would have your back more, but coming up and growing up in that environment, there’s a lot of stressful stuff in my environment and the only way I knew how to cope with it was when I got with the team,” said Hill, who acknowledged that the Giants were the ones to reach out and help him kick his habit.
Hill was asked (“not forced or anything”) to check into a rehab center in Boston, Mass. — and is currently in an outpatient program in Parsippany, N.J. He’s found out through the treatments that life’s stresses can be dealt with in other ways than marijuana abuse.
He went on to openly discuss what it was like going from a star prep athlete to college standout at the University of Florida, to an unlikely rising player for the Giants during last season’s successful training camp — all without the structure and much help from those close to him that he thought were there for him unconditionally.
“I’ve been through so many stressful times and the way I grew up it was second nature [to do the wrongs he’s done]. Growing up and just walking down the street and people putting guns in your face, it’s stressful. You really don’t know how to deal with things when you’re faced with stuff like that,” said Hill. “I can deal with football pressures. It’s just the other things [like] family members and everybody reaching their hands out like I’m an ATM, and people thinking you owe them something. ... There was a situation when I was back in my home town and some guy pulled a shotgun on me right there in a park for some money. It’s hard to deal with stuff like that and I tried the best way I knew how. It’s a blessing to be here and the Giants have really helped me out to know right from wrong and help me better cope with my problems.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin, one of the many supporters of Hill within the Giants’ facilities, didn’t want to delve too much into Hill’s transgressions, but said he’s hopeful the player can turn around his life.
“I’m not going to go into that,” Coughlin said when pressed about details of the conversation the two had. “But we were disappointed and hopefully Will gets his life straightened out. ... I’m excited to see him evolve.”
As far as executing on the field, Hill rarely has any problems. He’s arguably the most physically gifted athlete in the Giants’ secondary, as the 6-foot-1, 207-pounder is one of the most ferocious tacklers, while also possessing the speed to close on an open receiver.
Hill’s performance in last year’s training camp, and the fact that the Giants have gone out of their way to get him help, may be enough proof that the franchise isn’t giving up on him yet. The young safety, however, did note he may not have any more grace with the team should he get into any more trouble.
“I’ve talked to the team and they just told me to keep moving forward, keep positive, and take the suspension — and don’t have any more mishaps,” Hill said. “I think I’ll be around.”
Big Blue notes ...
» Hill wasn’t the only member of the Giants to find trouble this offseason, as newly signed linebacker Dan Connor was arrested at a Philadelphia airport this summer for carrying a concealed weapon. Connor, a former Dallas Cowboy vying for the starting middle linebacker spot, expressed regret.
“It’s unfortunate, but at the same time, my fault,” he said. Connor noted he didn’t know the knife was in his bag.
» Wideout Hakeem Nicks was seen dealing with a leg issue following the team’s 11-on-11 drill between the starters, as he limped to the sidelines. He didn’t participate in the following 7-on-7 passing drill, but didn’t need or seek medical attention. Coughlin said the receiver will be fine and was dealing with groin tightness.
» Safety Tyler Sash was the second Giants player to not be able to completely finish the workouts unscathed this weekend as he was suffering from cramps to his lower body and was carted off the field. Saturday’s practice featured linebacker Aaron Curry suffering from the same plight. Curry dressed and practiced on Sunday.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for live updates and photos from training camp.