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Dalton Hilliard Jr. tries to follow father’s footsteps

sports editor

Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Updated: Friday, August 10, 2012 15:08

football

Dalton Hillard Jr., #24, from New Orleans practices with Siegan Vergenal, #7, from New Iberia at football practice on Tuesday.

The athletic gene pool in the Hilliard family produces running backs left and right, and Dalton Hilliard's son, Dalton Hilliard Jr., is among the latest.

While sophomore running back Dalton Hilliard Jr. might have been blessed with the genetics that seem to breed running backs, he believes everyone has an athlete inside of him or her and that it is just a matter of what people choose to do with that athleticism.

Hilliard comes from a family tree that produces athlete after athlete. His father, Dalton Hilliard, played football at Louisiana State University and went on to play for the New Orleans Saints. His cousin, Kenny Hilliard, plays for LSU right now. Another relative, Ike Hilliard, played wide receiver for the Florida Gators and 12 years in the NFL playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants.

Dalton Hilliard Jr.'s dad played with the New Orleans Saints in the 80s and 90s and finished his NFL career with 4,164 yards and 39 touchdowns. In other words, when Hilliard needs any advice, all he has to do is call his dad.

"A lot of fans talk about my dad and the similarities between us, but it's a great feeling to have a father like my dad," Hilliard said. "He gives me a lot of advice. Sometimes, he thinks that I'm not listening, but I do listen. It's just the fact that we're both different types of backs, but he also gives me good advice that I can use to improve my own game."

Hilliard has gotten some playing time thus far for the Colonels and rushed the ball three times for 21 yards in four games. Perhaps Hilliard's proudest moment of his young collegiate career came last season when he scored a touchdown against Northwestern State.

"It was one of the greatest feelings," Hilliard said. "It was something I really wanted to do. I wanted to show Coach (Charlie Stubbs) that I could contribute to the team and score points when they need me."

Hilliard's cousin, Kenny, is a freshman at LSU and has seen some time at the fullback position this season. He had two rushes when he was at fullback for the Tigers against the Oregon Ducks in the opening game of the season in Cowboy Stadium. Dalton Jr. said he tries to talk to him as much as possible.

"That's my little cousin, but he's big," Hilliard said. "I talk to him at least three times a week to see how he's doing at LSU. I make sure he keeps his head up and keeps working hard."

With Hilliard's father spending his entire career as a New Orleans Saint, one would figure that the Saints would be Hilliard's favorite team. That is not the case.

"I don't really have a favorite team. I just like favorite players," Hilliard said. "Guys like Darren Sproles, Maurice Jones-Drew and my dad are my favorites because of our height."

As the Colonels get deeper into the season, Hilliard is doing whatever he can to get onto the football field and contribute to the team. Spoken like a true team player, he said he is willing to do whatever Stubbs needs him to do to help the team.

"I'm trying to protect the quarterback and make sure I give Coach confidence that I can also run the ball as well. It's all a part of the game plan. Whatever the game plan is, I'm here to contribute," Hilliard said.

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