At the start of the season, redshirt junior running back Jonathan Hilliman was atop the Boston College football depth chart, despite the looming presence of four-star recruit A.J. Dillon. By the end of the year, though, Dillon was locking up a plethora of ACC honors and had the country abuzz with his highlight-reel stiff arms and over 1,500 rushing yards.
Hilliman, in his fourth year with the Eagles, was an afterthought. Despite posting career highs in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, it was clear that he was no longer the go-to guy. It was particularly evident in the Pinstripe Bowl, where he touched the ball just five times.
So, after graduating from BC, Hilliman is using his fifth and final year of eligibility at Rutgers, a Big Ten program in his home state. The Scarlet Knights had his commitment back in his senior year of high school, but after then-head coach Kyle Flood was fired, he flipped to join the Eagles.
He announced his return via Twitter early Wednesday night.
“To end all the speculation, yes, I have decided to do my final year of college football in my backyard,” the Jersey City, N.J. native tweeted. “So grateful for this unbelievable opportunity to play at Rutgers University!”
He hinted at it after the loss to Iowa, posting, “Interesting offseason ahead,” then followed up with the announcement he’d graduated from BC. Nj.com picked up the story, linking Rutgers and Hilliman together with the news of a potential visit.
His depth will be missed. Despite Dillon picking up the majority of the carries, Hilliman was a more than capable second option who showcased particular versatility in the short-passing game. He also had the potential to step up in any given game, surpassing the century-yard mark twice—against Notre Dame and UConn.
Losing his 638 yards on the ground and 155 yards through the air is a tough blow for the Eagles, especially considering that the rest of the backfield is relatively inexperienced—after Hilliman, there was a drop off in production as far as the running back corps is concerned. Wide receiver Thadd Smith, who racked up a bunch of yards on jet sweeps and endarounds, and quarterback Anthony Brown finished the season third and fourth, respectively, in rushing yards. Time will tell if Davon Jones, who abandoned the backfield to play linebacker mid-season due to a host of injuries at the position, will once again assume some of the ball-carrying duties.
Who’s left? Running back Travis Levy showed potential in his inaugural season, while junior Richard Wilson played in just two games. Incoming recruit David Bailey, a 6-foot-1, 235-pound bruising back will likely have potential to compete for the No. 2 job right out of the gate.
Hilliman is joining a Rutgers program that’s looking for their first winning season since 2014. The Scarlet Knights will be looking to replace their top two rushers in Gus Edwards, a transfer from Miami, and Robert Martin.
His transfer is the second of the offseason, with quarterback Darius Wade also departing.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor