BOZEMAN -- It’s been a difficult road back for Montana State senior linebacker Josh Hill, who missed nearly all of the 2018 football season after having back surgery in the summer.
“Missing out on last year was really tough, and spending the whole year trying to get back to be able to participate in this camp and be part of the team this year was my only goal,” said Hill.
Being injured took its toll on the Kalispell Glacier High School alum, but not right away.
“I think it really hit me on Cat-Griz when I wasn’t able to participate in that game. I was on the sideline when the defense stopped the Griz on the goal line to win Cat-Griz and there was nothing I could do about it," Hill said. "That, I think, was the toughest part.”
Hill missed the feeling that a victory on the field brought.
“There’s nothing else that winning a football game compares to in your life. There’s nothing else that I’ve done that competes with that feeling, especially a game like Cat-Griz or getting into the playoffs," Hill said. "I haven’t experienced anything quite like it.”
It was that intense passion that led Hill to finally play in one game last season, against North Dakota State in the FCS playoffs. He had an interception, and head coach Jeff Choate said he was the best defensive player in the game.
Choate knows Hill has high football intelligence, making him a top option -- and a reliable option -- at linebacker.
“If Josh is healthy, it’s going to be hard to take him off the field because the things he brings are intangible things. He’s not going to wow you. If he walks in here right now you’ll be saying, ‘Hey, who’s cleaning the bathroom right now?'" joked Choate. "But he’s going to be the guy who’s going to go out there every single down, know exactly where to line up, get every body dialed in and make plays.”
Hill is again cleared to play and ready to make the most of every single moment in his senior year at Montana State for the love of the game.
“It kind of gives you a different perspective, too, of just not being able to do this for a whole season last year," Hill said. "It gives you a little more respect for the game, I’d say, and an appreciation for the team and for what the sport does for everybody that’s involved.”