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23 For 2023 - #20 David Hill

Graham Coffey

Who would you rank as the coaches most important to UGA’s success?” 

That question was recently posed to me by a DawgsCentral subscriber in response to a piece of intel that I posted on our forum. I started to type out a response, but a couple sentences in I realized that the answer to the question is quite complex. To make such a list, one must make broad value judgments on what assets are most important to a modern college football program. 

When thinking about the answer I also found myself thinking about an old football cliche… "It's not the X's and the O's but the Jimmys and the Joes." That got me considering the players who will suit up on gamedays for Georgia next fall. Good gameplans and great play calls are key to any team’s success, but they are usually only as good as the personnel executing them. 

With that in mind, I decided to broaden the scope of these rankings beyond just members of the coaching staff. As I go through this list I will touch on every position room and virtually every facet of the Georgia Football program. In that way, it will serve as both my version of a spring practice preview and a look at the state of the program. 

Today we kick the rankings off with #23. Since we are a newer website and this might be your introduction to DawgsCentral, the first few entries in this series will not be paywalled. As we get further down the list it will become a subscriber’s only feature.

So without further adieu, here are the 23 people most crucial to UGA’s success in the year 2023. Whether or not Georgia is able to win a third straight championship, and how they go about trying to do it, will be largely influenced by the roles these individuals play.

Previous Entires

#23 - Jamaal Jarrett

#22 - Fran Brown 

#21 - Daylen Everette

20. David Hill 

When Kirby Smart hired 33 year-old David Hill as UGA’s Player Connection Coordinator/Assistant RB’s Coach last July it received little fanfare in the media. An assistant coach at Desert Pines high-school in Las Vegas, Hill wasn’t exactly a known name in the coaching world at the time. Before UGA added him to the staff he 

You might not know David Hill’s name, but you’re probably familiar with his protege. Darnell Washington played for Hill at Desert Pines. He recognized Washington’s physical gifts early on and helped mold Darnell both on and off of the field. Hill’s introduction to the Georgia coaching staff happened when the Bulldogs were recruiting the five-star TE on his team. He accompanied Darnell on some of his visits to Athens, and Smart recognized that there was something special about Hill’s ability to get through to young players. 

Unlike Washington, nothing came easy for Hill during his own playing career at Desert Pines. At 5’8” he was overlooked by recruiting services and college scouts during his time as a prep player. Not one to give up on his dream, he headed to the JUCO ranks to try and get noticed by a bigger program. Hill spent two seasons at Pierce Community College in Los Angeles. 

California JUCO programs don’t offer scholarships, so Hill worked part-time jobs at Sears and the campus bookstore to scrape together enough money for tuition and living expenses. He shared a 800-square foot two-bedroom apartment with eight teammates to keep his football dreams alive. After finishing his last year of JUCO with little FBS interest, he spliced together his own highlight tape and started calling schools. Eventually Arizona gave him a football home, and he spent two seasons playing Fullback for the Wildcats from 2011-2012. 

He returned to Desert Pines after college to coach football and teach in a school-to-career program called Jobs for America’s Graduates. Hill taught his students life skills like shopping for groceries and how to prepare for a job interview. In a 2022 interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Hill said that he told his students to “never stop pursuing your goals and dreams. Mine is to be a college football coach, and it’s only a matter of time until I get there.”

Hill was born to a 14 year-old mother and his father was shot and killed when he was just a baby. Football was his path to a better life, and he never gave up on his dreams of coaching in college despite being passed over for graduate assistant jobs. Hill wanted to help other athletes and started helping recruits at Desert Pines build their profiles. He started arranging trips to D1 programs in the region for the players at the school. 

The Desert Pines program continued to grow, and won two state championships with Hill on staff. With more wins on the field, Desert Pines began to get more interest from college coaches looking for recruits to fill out their rosters. Hill’s trips started happening to football powers like Alabama and Oklahoma. Hill also reached out to other schools in Las Vegas to help bring their players into the recruiting spotlight.  

Along the way, Hill helped players land scholarship offers at FBS powers and developed a network of relationships across the college football landscape. Washington’s background is similar to Hill’s. Darnell was raised by his mother and his family hopped apartments and missed meals when he was a child. Hill was determined to make sure that Washington used his talents to create a better life for himself. When Georgia was recruiting Darnell, Hill was by his side to advise Darnell on what to look for in a college program. 

NCAA rules prohibit a school from hiring a player’s high-school coach for two years after they enroll. After that time had passed, Smart reached out to Hill and offered him a job. 

There are a few things that make Hill a valuable asset to the Georgia program. 

The first is that Hill’s journey has been the product of hard work, dedication, and a sincere desire to help others. He thrived as a JAG teacher and assistant coach because he possesses a genuine passion to help other athletes thrive. In his role as UGA’s Player Connection Coordinator he continues to serve as a mentor to young athletes. 

Hill often posts inspirational videos on social media. In them he shares his own experience and beliefs while giving advice to young athletes. They provide a rare glimpse into the type of messages that UGA’s staff gives to its players and show why Hill is beloved by many players in the program. 



“Stay focused on the mission. Stay focused on the things your family prayed for. There’s a lot of us that get to college, get to the NFL, get to the NBA, and start doing stuff we ain’t never did before. All of a sudden you wanna be Mr. Tough Guy… You don’t want to work hard no more. You don’t want to do the things that you told God you was gonna do when you made it out the hood. Go back and make a difference in the community. Go back and be somebody that everybody can look up to, because let me tell you something, opportunities never go away. They just go to someone else. We get this mindset that ‘aw they need me. The team need me.’ The team don’t need nobody… These teams going to keep going once you come and go, I don’t care how good you is… Everybody’s replaceable from the top to the bottom. Stop thinking these opportunities are going away and they’re vanishing. No, they’re going to the next person that’s hungry. Don’t do the things you said you wasn’t going to do. We’ve got a chance to make life-changing money… Go back and be a light in that community…”

There are plenty of talented teams in college football. They are usually filled with highly recruited players who were the stars of their high-school teams and have been chased by college recruiters for years. The programs that are most successful are often the ones who are capable of getting those players to buy into structure and put the team first. There is a long list of talented high-school and college players whose careers didn’t pan out because of legal problems, lack of focus, or giving into the frustration of having to wait their turn to see the field. Hill helps ensure that the dozens of blue-chip recruits on Georgia’s roster keep their eyes on the prize, and his background and experience as a college player allows him to relate in a unique way. His words carry a special weight. 

In addition to being a mentor to UGA’s players, Hill has also added a lot of his own relationships to the Georgia football network. He played JUCO ball in Southern California, played FBS football in Arizona, and coached in Las Vegas for a decade. All of those recruiting trips that Hill organized for high-school players in Vegas has given him a deep Rolodex of relationships. In his position he isn’t allowed to recruit off-campus, but he has already had an impressive impact on Georgia’s recruiting relationships. 

Hill has ties to prep football powers like Bishop Gorman (NV), Mater Dei (CA), St. John Bosco (CA), and others. Smart has built UGA into the preeminent program in college football, and the Georgia logo now carries more weight than ever. Hill’s presence on stand has given the Bulldogs in-roads to West Coast prospects that it wasn’t reaching in years past. 

In the 2023 class the Dawgs landed four-star CB Justyn Rhett out of Las Vegas and were in on a lot of other big time prospects from out West. In the 2024 class they already have a commitment from Peyton Woodyard out of St John Bosco. He is the nation’s #3 safety and the #2 ranked player in the state of California. 

Hill is also using his SoCal ties to recruit 2024 prospects like four-star DT Aydin Breland (Mater Dei/CA), the nation’s #1 OT Brandon Baker (Mater Dei/CA), and four-star ATH/WR Aaron Butler (Calabasas, CA).

The Bulldogs have done a great job recruiting Georgia and Florida ever since Kirby Smart took over. We have also seen UGA go into states like Texas and Pennsylvania to get blue-chip prospects in recent years. Hill is a big part of making sure the Bulldogs recruiting machine has the relationships it needs in talent rich states like California and Arizona. That could be bad news for the rest of college football. 

Hill’s importance to Georgia’s staff might be best signified by the fact that he is the first coach to be given the title of Assistant RB’s Coach under Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs have had Dell McGee coaching running backs ever since Smart took the job in 2016, but he hasn’t had an assistant until Hill arrived. McGee is a legendary recruiting ace and RB coach. The chance to learn from him is a golden opportunity for Hill to develop, and it could put him in line to replace McGee if he moves on in the future. 

After years of working and waiting, Hill is living his dream coaching under Smart in Athens. Multiple G5 schools reached out to Hill to gauge his interest in being their running backs coach last offseason, but he is committed to the coach and the program who gave him his long-awaited shot as a college football coach. 

With Georgia’s team dealing with the pressure of a three-peat and the recent deaths of two members of the program, Hill’s skills as a mentor and his ability to connect with players will be a huge asset to the 2023 Bulldogs. 

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