I spent one Wednesday with Maryland quarterback Perry Hills, following him around through his hectic schedule. This story came out of it.
For your enjoyment, here is some extended footage, scenes from the day that never made it into Saturday’s print edition:
● When Hills began wrestling at age 5, he thought it would be like WWE. He would choke-slam and pile-drive opponents. He showed up the first day, saw the required shoes and was confused. One year later, at age 6, Hills started football. He tried out for quarterback the next season, and hasn’t moved from under center since.
●Over the summer, while working out on campus, Hills would regularly take down an entire cheese pizza every night. Such a diet is out since he began a program designed so that he gains weight with healthier foods, although he’ll indulge himself with a Potbelly’s sandwich every now and then.
His mother would ask why Perry wouldn’t come home more throughout the summer. “Because I like it here,” he replied.
●Speaking of Lori Hills, those drives with his mother, whether to wrestling practice in the early morning or back from football camps at night, became a staple of Perry’s childhood. They often stopped for fast food in Breezewood, Pa.
“She’s like my manager,” Hills said of his mother. “She surprisingly knows a lot of what she’s talking about. Going to a wrestling practice, she’ll tell me to work on your offense today, take a lot of shots and stuff like that.
“She definitely helped out a lot, even with getting here. She’d help send out highlight tapes to coaches, drove me here to attend the camp which was where I got the offer. She’s done so much for me. I’m so thankful because she’s a big reason why I’m here today.”
●How did Hills land on wearing No. 11?
“When I was little, I used to like Ohio State because quarterback wore 16,” Hills said. “I had a little Ohio State jacket, wear that around. I was 20 one year, then someone got that number, so I ended up with 16.
“From then on I wore 16 all the way up until freshman year in high school. A senior had my number, so I switched to 18. For Peyton Manning, I guess. Then even coming to Maryland, someone had 18, so I had to go to 11. Any number I had, I’ve been fine with. I like 11 now.”
● An abbreviated list of the things Hills misses about home: His silver Pontiac G6 GT. His dogs, Jake and Cody. “They’re like brothers to me, even though they can’t talk,” Hills said. “They’ll send me a video of them rolling over or something. It makes me miss them.” And, of course, his family.
●Inside Hills’s bedroom, beyond the doorway he ducks to walk under, is a poster of The Avengers. All four suitemates have an alter ego, corresponding to members of the superhero team. Roman Braglio is the Hulk, because he’s the biggest. Joe Riddle is more country, so he’s Captain America. P.J. Gallo is Iron Man, the brainy one. As for Hills?
“I’m Thor, I guess,” he said, as if wielding a storm-summoning hammer was somehow a consolation prize.