The Pittsburgh Steelers seemingly have quite a find in former undrafted free agent cornerback Mike Hilton as he’s been playing well so far this season as a sub-package defensive back. In fact, in the Steelers Sunday road win over the Baltimore Ravens, Hilton, who ended the 2016 season on the Steelers practice squad, registered his first career sack and first career interception. The University of Mississippi product also had four total tackles in the game.
During his Tuesday press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to comment on his first initial evaluation of Hilton a few years ago.
“Mike is a guy that we’ve got a lot of respect for and had a lot respect for,” Tomlin said. “We saw Mike play a lot in the evaluation of Senquez Golson, who we drafted out of Ole Miss. Mike is a unique guy. He wore 38 at Ole Miss, he wore the Chucky Mullins jersey. Anybody that knows anything about Ole Miss football, the guys that they recognize with that jersey, it speaks to their football character and the way that they play the game. They honor those that they choose in that way. So if you follow college football, you understand that element of it. Anybody wearing 38 for Ole Miss is going to get your attention. That’s the first way he got our attention and we were able to continue to follow him and do business with him and he’s doing some good things.”
In case you don’t follow Ole Miss or college football, Chucky Mullins played defensive back at the University of Mississippi from 1988 to 1989. He shattered four vertebrae in his cervical spine via a hit during the school’s 1989 homecoming game against the Vanderbilt Commodores and he was immediately paralyzed. Mullins ultimately passed away in May of 1991 due to a pulmonary embolism.
In 2015, Hilton was announced as Ole Miss’ 26th overall recipient of the Chucky Mullins Award. The award is presented annually to an Ole Miss upperclassman defensive player that embodies the spirit of Mullins – courage, leadership, perseverance and determination.
“I’m thankful for the coaches for giving me the opportunity to do what I do, on the field and off the field,” Hilton said after receiving the award. “I’m trying to live up to what (Mullins) has done. I want to be the best I can in memory of him.”
While the Steelers ultimately failed with their second-round selection of former University of Mississippi cornerback Senquez Golson, who never even played in one preseason or regular season game due to different injuries, Hilton has turned into a very nice consolation prize for the team. It was fairly evident this past offseason that Hilton would be a player to pay close attention to during training camp and he did not disappoint at Latrobe and that carried over into the team’s four preseason games.