“That guy’s a freak,” head coach Chuck Pagano said. “I’d hate to be the guy on the opposite side of the ball. I know our defensive guys make sure they know where he’s at all the time. He just keeps growing and growing and growing.”
The Colts traded back into the third round of last year’s draft to select Hilton, 28 spots after they’d landed tight end Dwayne Allen. Despite becoming the leading receiver in Florida International history, Hilton slipped because of a hamstring injury that limited his ability to flash his game-breaking speed during the draft process.
He missed the season opener at Chicago but quickly showed Indianapolis was correct to take the risk. In addition to his receiving numbers, Hilton averaged 11.5 yards on 26 punt returns.
He even made franchise history during a 20-13 victory against Buffalo on Nov. 25, becoming the first Colt ever to return a punt for a score and catch a touchdown pass in the same game.
“The game is so easy to him,” Pagano said. “He is so smart. He has put so much time in not only in the weight room, on the practice field working his craft, but in the classroom. He understands what’s going on. He knows exactly where to line up. He knows every call.”
He also has one of the best role models imaginable.
Entering his 13th season, Reggie Wayne needs just 32 catches for 1,000 in his career. He’s also closing in on the franchise record for receiving yards with a career total of 13,063. Throw in a pair of Super Bowl appearances, one championship ring and the fact he’s still going strong at age 34, and there’s a career well worth emulating.
“Everyone is trying to get to where he is at,” Hilton said. “Floyd [Mayweather Jr.] is a great boxer and everyone wants to get where he’s at, and Reggie is a great receiver and a Hall of Famer. So everyone wants to get where he is at. So for me to be right there next to him, I just feel blessed.”