Kylin Hill, a star running back at Mississippi State, threatened Monday to leave the program if the state does not change its flag. Mississippi is the only state that features the Confederate battle flag as part of its state flag, and it has been under increased pressure recently to move away from that symbol of slavery and the Civil War.

A native of Mississippi, Hill was replying to a tweet sent by Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who said he didn’t think a “viable alternative” to the flag issue was a proposal under consideration by the legislature to add a second official flag. Pointing to a 2001 state referendum in which voters overwhelmingly chose to keep the current flag, Reeves wrote that a plan similar to the two-flag proposal “would actually divide our state more.”

In response, Hill wrote, “Either change the flag or I won’t be representing this State anymore & I meant that.” He added, “I’m tired.”

In a subsequent tweet, Hill wrote that unlike some others opining on the issue, he was “born in this state” and knows what the flag means.

Amid Black Lives Matter protests continuing across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, monuments and other symbols honoring the Confederacy have been taken down, removed or, in some cases, defaced.

On Friday, University of Mississippi football players posted a video in which a number of them voiced support for the removal of a statue of a Confederate soldier — or, as they put it, a “symbol of slavery, racism, hate and oppression” — from a prominent position on campus.

NASCAR recently banned all displays of the Confederate flag and, of greater concern to many in Mississippi, the NCAA announced Friday that it was effectively boycotting the state by refusing to stage any championship events in places where the Confederate symbol “has a prominent presence.”

Hill is set to play his senior season for the Bulldogs this year, and he is slated to be the SEC’s leading returning rusher. The player who led the conference in that category last year, former Kentucky star Lynn Bowden Jr., earned a retweet from Hill on Monday by telling the MSU standout, “Stand yo ground!!”

Hill also shared messages of support from teammates and other players, including Seattle Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright, who played at Mississippi State.

“You have my full support brotha!” Wright tweeted. “That flag represents hate, racism, oppression! It’s BEEN TIME for a change. There’s strength in numbers! We all have to be on board.”

Hill indicated late last year that he would enter this year’s NFL draft before announcing in January he had had a change of heart. In addition to saying then that he wanted to “continue the pursuit of my degree,” Hill expressed excitement about the chance to play for new coach Mike Leach, who is known for his “Air Raid” attack.

Leach is also known for making questionable comments, both in interviews and via his Twitter account, and in April he offered a statement of “regret” after he tweeted a meme that showed a woman knitting a noose. The tweet was ostensibly meant to be a joke about spending so much time isolating at home with one’s spouse during the novel coronavirus pandemic, but noose imagery was described as “never appropriate” by MSU Athletic Director John Cohen.

The placing of a noose in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only black full-time driver in its top-tier Cup Series, rocked the sports world Sunday after the stock-car circuit revealed the “heinous act” had taken place that day.

“This will not break me. I will not give in nor will I back down,” Wallace said Sunday in a statement. “I will continue to stand proudly for what I believe in.”

After making his feelings known Monday about Mississippi’s flag, among the other messages Hill retweeted was one from Bulldogs teammate Marcus Murphy. Noting that he was also a native of Mississippi, Murphy vowed that the likes of himself and Hill would “stand for something but NOT fall for anything.”

Hill still might have the option of entering the NFL’s supplemental draft, as could a number of other college football upperclassmen, particularly given the coronavirus-related uncertainty about the upcoming season.

One such player, at least in theory, could be Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard. The Football Bowl Subdivision leader in rushing yards as a sophomore last season, Hubbard castigated his coach, Mike Gundy, after a photo emerged of the latter wearing a shirt with the logo of One America News Network.

Hubbard declared that he would not “stand for” such an endorsement of a media platform that has harshly criticized the Black Lives Matter movement. Hubbard received immediate support from current and former Oklahoma State players, and Gundy soon disavowed OAN and apologized for the “pain and discomfort” he had caused his program.

Leach, Hill’s new coach, said Monday, “If Kylin chooses to express his opinion, I think he should if he wants to.”

“Not everybody is listening to one another, and I think we have to get to that point,” Leach added. “I applaud Kylin’s right to express his opinion really on any subject.”

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