Ike Hilliard
refer to caption
Hilliard with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008
Personal information
Born: (1976-04-05) April 5, 1976 (age 47)
Patterson, Louisiana, U.S.
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school:Patterson
NFL Draft:1997 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:6,397
Receiving touchdowns:35
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Isaac Jason Hilliard (born April 5, 1976) is an American football coach and former wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL). He played primarily with the New York Giants.

Hilliard played college football for the Florida Gators, earning consensus All-American honors in 1996. He was a first-round pick (seventh overall) by the New York Giants in the 1997 NFL Draft. Hilliard also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring in 2008.

Early years

Hilliard was born in Patterson, Louisiana in 1976.[1] He attended Patterson High School,[2] where he was a star high school football player for the Patterson Lumberjacks. During his senior year, he played quarterback, wingback, and free safety. That year, he rushed for 737 yards and 12 touchdowns, caught 20 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns, had 45 tackles and intercepted five passes. He was rated among the top 10 defensive backs in the Southeast, but he had his heart set on playing wide receiver.[3]

College career

Hilliard accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played wide receiver for coach Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators football team from 1994 to 1996 although never having played the position before.[4] During his three seasons as a Gator, the team won three SEC Championships in 1994, 1995, and 1996. As a junior in 1996, he was paired with fellow Gators receiver Reidel Anthony and both posted 1,000-yard seasons, and both Hilliard and Anthony were recognized as first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selections and consensus first-team All-Americans,[4][5] as the Gators won the Bowl Alliance national championship—their first-ever national football title. Hilliard's efforts made him a semi-finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 1996. The Gators finished the season with a record of 12–1 after a 52–20 victory over the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles in the 1997 Sugar Bowl.[6] Hilliard had a sensational performance in the 1997 Sugar Bowl victory for Florida against their arch rival Florida State. His most well known play occurred during this game, as he snagged a Danny Wuerffel pass, took one hard step towards the end zone, then stopped on a dime, avoiding Seminole defenders as he dashed the remaining 15 yards to the end zone. It was the second of a Sugar Bowl-record three touchdowns for Hilliard and it gave the Gators a 24–10 advantage in what ended as a 52-20 Florida victory.[7] Memorably, he set three Sugar Bowl Records against the Seminoles at the time: he had 150 receiving yards, including an 82-yard touchdown catch, and scored a total of three touchdowns for eighteen points.[4]

Hilliard was among the members of the 11th Anniversary class inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. Hilliard's signature game against Georgia came in 1995, when he hauled in five passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns, as the Gators claimed a 52–17 victory over the Bulldogs.[8] He was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 2009.[9][10]

Hilliard was honored as an SEC Legend in 2011. He was chosen for The Florida Football All-Century Team, chosen by Gator fans and compiled by The Gainesville Sun in the fall of 1999.[11] Additionally, he was selected to The 100th-Anniversary Florida Team that was selected in 2006 to celebrate a century of Florida football. Fans voted by mail and online.[12]

SEC Record Book

Florida Career Record Book

Sugar Bowl Record Book

Hilliard declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft after his junior season, and finished his college career with 126 receptions for 2,214 yards and twenty-nine touchdowns.[4] In a 2006 series published by The Gainesville Sun, he was recognized as No. 14 among the 100 all-time greatest Gator players from the first century of Florida football.[18]

Professional career

New York Giants

The New York Giants selected Hilliard in the first round (seventh overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft.[19] He played his first eight seasons for the Giants from 1997 to 2004.[20] He became a regular starter in 1998,[20] and helped the Giants shut out the Minnesota Vikings 41–0 in the 2000 season NFC Championship Game. As New York's wide receiver, he made 10 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns to help his team reach Super Bowl XXXV following the 2000 regular season.

A string of injuries kept him off the field throughout his time with the Giants. During the second game of his rookie year, Hilliard was hit by Jacksonville safety Chris Hudson and sustained a sprained interspinous ligament between his sixth and seventh vertebrae. He underwent posterior spine stabilization surgery, which fused the two vertebrae.[21] After an 8-month rehabilitation period,[22] Hilliard was named an Ed Block Courage Award recipient in 1998, which are voted on by their teammates as role models of inspiration, sportsmanship, and courage. He continued at his level of play with disregard for his personal safety, which created a cringe-inducing medical record: bruised lungs and a bruised sternum in 2000, foot surgery before the 2001 season, and a dislocated shoulder in 2002.[23]

As a Giant, he made 368 receptions for 4,630 receiving yards and twenty-seven touchdowns.[1] After having a distinguished career with the team, that included ranking sixth in franchise history in receptions and tenth in receiving yards,[24][25] he signed a one-day contract to retire as a New York Giant on July 30, 2010.[26]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On May 6, 2005, it was reported that Hilliard signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[27] During his first two seasons with Tampa Bay, he was used mainly as a third or fourth receiver, but in 2007, he started ten games, in which he made sixty-two receptions for 722 yards.[20] During his time with the Bucs, he became a third down specialist, with 111 of 178 career catches resulting in a first down. Head coach Jon Gruden referred to him as "Third and Ike".[28]

On October 19, 2008, Hilliard refused to be carted off the field during a Sunday Night Football 20–10 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill made a helmet-to-helmet collision to Hilliard, as Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu hit Hilliard from behind, forcing his body to go limp, after making a catch in the second quarter.[29]

After four seasons with the team, Hilliard was released by the Buccaneers on February 25, 2009.[30] He was one of five veterans that the Bucs released that day, the other four being wide receiver Joey Galloway, running back Warrick Dunn and linebackers Derrick Brooks and Cato June.[31]

In his twelve-season NFL career, Hilliard appeared in 161 regular-season games, starting in 105, and made 546 catches for 6,397 yards and thirty-five touchdowns.[1] He also had 126 rushing yards on sixteen attempts.[1]

NFL career statistics

Receiving statistics[32]

Year Team GP Rec Yards Avg Lng TD FD Fum Lost
1997 NYG 2 2 42 21.0 23 0 2 0 0
1998 NYG 16 51 715 14.0 50 2 29 2 2
1999 NYG 16 72 996 13.8 46 3 50 0 0
2000 NYG 14 55 787 14.3 59 8 44 0 0
2001 NYG 14 52 659 12.7 38 6 36 0 0
2002 NYG 7 27 386 14.3 38 2 21 0 0
2003 NYG 13 60 608 10.1 38 6 38 2 2
2004 NYG 16 49 437 8.9 43 0 22 3 1
2005 TB 16 35 282 8.1 22 1 24 0 0
2006 TB 16 34 339 10.0 44 2 19 0 0
2007 TB 15 62 722 11.6 56 1 37 2 2
2008 TB 16 47 424 9.0 36 4 31 1 1
Career 161 546 6,397 11.7 59 35 353 10 8

Returning statistics[32]

Year Team GP PR Yds Avg Lng TD FC
2004 NYG 16 4 26 6.5 15 0 0
2006 TB 16 24 163 6.8 16 0 3
2007 TB 15 15 92 6.1 20 0 4
2008 TB 16 3 19 6.3 11 0 7
Career 63 46 300 6.5 20 0 14

Coaching career

Florida Tuskers

Forced to retire after a string of injuries and nine surgeries, Hilliard became a volunteer receivers coach for the UFL's Florida Tuskers, a charter UFL franchise based in Orlando, Florida. In 2010, he became the Tuskers' new wide receivers coach for the season. He worked alongside Head Coach Jim Haslett and Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden. The Tuskers appeared in the first two UFL Championship Games, losing both to the Las Vegas Locomotives. In 2010, the league suspended the Tuskers' operations and moved the remnants of the team to Virginia Beach to assume the identity (and some executive staff) of a previously announced expansion team that was to begin play in 2011.[33][34]

Miami Dolphins

In 2011, Hilliard returned to the NFL as an assistant wide receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins under Head Coach Tony Sparano assisting in the development of Brandon Marshall and Brian Hartline.

Washington Redksins

In 2012, Hilliard was hired by Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins as the wide receivers coach. He oversaw a unit that had four wide receivers with at least 500 receiving yards or more (Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan and Pierre Garçon). The Redskins ended the regular season with a 7-game winning streak to finish with a 10–6 record, leading to a NFC East division championship and a 4th seed spot in the playoffs. It was their first division title since 1999.

Buffalo Bills

In 2013, the Buffalo Bills hired Hilliard as the wide receivers coach.[35] Hilliard oversaw a young group of receivers that included veteran Steve Johnson and rookies Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin.

Washington Redskins

In January 2014, Hilliard was reunited with Jay Gruden when the Head Coach named Hilliard the wide receivers coach of the Washington Redskins of the NFL. This would be his second stint with the Redskins reunited with a veteran unit that included Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson and Santana Moss. In the 2015 season, the Redskins made a return to the playoffs since their appearance in 2012. The Redskins would go on a 4-game winning streak to finish the season, and win the NFC East with a 9–7 record. However, the Redskins lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card round 35–18, ending their season.[36] During the 2019 season, Hilliard helped to develop a group of rookie wide receivers which included Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims.[37] McLaurin finished the season with 58 receptions for 919 yards and 7 touchdowns, and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.[38]

Pittsburgh Steelers

Hilliard joined the Pittsburgh Steelers to be their wide receivers coach in February 2020.[39] Rookie Chase Claypool was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round, 49th overall, in the 2020 NFL Draft as the team's first selection.[40] Under Hilliard, Claypool became the first Steelers rookie in franchise history to score four touchdowns in a game, and the first Steeler since Roy Jefferson in 1968 to do so.[41] Claypool also became the only wide receiver in NFL history to accomplish this feat in the same game. His performance helped the team start out with a 4–0 record for the first time since 1979.[42] On October 14, 2020, Claypool was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Week 5.[43] Claypool would finish the season passing former Steelers wideout Troy Edwards for the most receptions by a rookie in franchise history, snagging his 62nd of the season on the touchdown pass from quarterback Mason Rudolph during Week 17. Claypool also tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris and former Steelers wide receiver Louis Lipps for the most touchdowns scored by a Steelers rookie in a single season with 11. Both records added to an already impressive first season for the former Notre Dame wideout, who won the Joe Greene Great Performance Award as the Steelers' top rookie and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.[44] Under Hilliard, WR Diontae Johnson finished the 2021 season with 107 receptions for 1,161 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns in 16 games. Diontae Johnson was then named to his first Pro Bowl, replacing Bengals receiver Ja'Marr Chase.[45] Following the 2021 season, Hilliard's contract was not renewed by the team.[46]

Auburn Tigers

Hilliard was hired on February 23, 2022, to be Auburn's new Wide Receivers Coach. After the dismissal of head coach, Bryan Harsin in October 2022, Hilliard was named interim Co-Offensive Coordinator.

Personal life

Hilliard is the nephew of former New Orleans Saints running back Dalton Hilliard. His cousin Kenny Hilliard is a former NFL Player. He and his wife, Lourdes, met at the University of Florida and have been married for 23 years. He has five children. After declaring for the 1997 NFL Draft as a true junior and spending 23 seasons in the NFL (as a player and coach), Hilliard returned to the University of Florida to complete his degree.[47] He worked as an NFL coach while quietly working to complete his degree from 2013 to 2018.[48]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Pro-Football-Reference.com, Players, Ike Hilliard. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  2. ^ databaseFootball.com, Players, Ike Hilliard Archived September 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved June 3, 2010
  3. ^ Dame, Mike (October 5, 1994). "HILLIARD BROTHERS SQUARE OFF". Orlando Sentinel.
  4. ^ a b c d 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide Archived April 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 76, 77–79, 85, 88, 93, 97, 127, 143–145, 147–148, 152, 162, 168–169, 174, 182 (2011). Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  5. ^ 2012 NCAA Football Records Book, Award Winners, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, Indiana, pp. 10 & 14 (2012). Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  6. ^ College Football Data Warehouse, Steve Spurrier Records by Year, 1996 Archived March 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  7. ^ "Greatest Plays in Sugar Bowl History". All State Sugar Bowl.
  8. ^ "Ike Hilliard & Lee McGriff Inducted into Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame". Florida Gators.
  9. ^ F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  10. ^ "Eight 2009 Honorees Inducted Into UF Athletic Hall of Fame Archived October 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine," GatorZone.com (April 17, 2009). Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  11. ^ Dooley, Pat. "Highlight Gator All Century Team". Lakeland Ledger.
  12. ^ "Gator Fans' All-Century Football Team Announced". Florida Gators.
  13. ^ "Ike Hilliard". Sports Reference.
  14. ^ "Ike Hilliard Named 2011 SEC Football Legend". Florida Gators.
  15. ^ "Florida Gators School History". Sports Reference.
  16. ^ "Past Sugar Bowl Information" (PDF).
  17. ^ "History of the Allstate Sugar Bowl". All State Sugar Bowl.
  18. ^ Robbie Andreu & Pat Dooley, "No. 14 Ike Hilliard Archived December 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine," The Gainesville Sun (August 20, 2006). Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  19. ^ "1997 NFL Draft Listing". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved March 30, 2023.
  20. ^ a b c National Football League, Historical Players, Ike Hilliard. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  21. ^ "Hilliard is Back After Neck Injury". CBS News. July 25, 1998.
  22. ^ Kernan, Kevin (January 22, 2001). "Ike's Living Out a Dream". New York Post.
  23. ^ Viera, Mark (July 31, 2010). "Different but Celebrated, Hilliard and Tyree Retire". The New York Times.
  24. ^ "New York Giants Career Receiving Leaders". Football DB.
  25. ^ "New York Giants Career Receiving Leaders". Football DB.
  26. ^ "Different but Celebrated, Hilliard and Tyree Retire". The New York Times. July 30, 2010.
  27. ^ "Bucs sign former Giants WR Hilliard". www.patriots.com. Retrieved October 7, 2023.
  28. ^ "Gruden: "Ike Hilliard Is One of My Favorite Guys"". Pewter Report. August 14, 2007.
  29. ^ Balog, Tom. "Tampa Bay's Hilliard Refused to Be Carted Off the Field". Tampa Bay Ledger.
  30. ^ "Bucs Release Derrick Brooks, 4 Others," Yahoo Sports (February 25, 2009). Retrieved February 25, 2009.
  31. ^ "Tampa Bay Buccaneers release Derrick Brooks, four others | Tampa Bay Times". Archived from the original on January 11, 2014. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  32. ^ a b "Ike Hilliard Stats". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  33. ^ Cordes, Henry (2011, February 21). Full seats, empty pockets. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved February 21, 2011-02-21 from [1].
  34. ^ "UFL's Florida Tuskers move to Virginia". Orlando Business Journal. January 12, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  35. ^ Ewoldt, Kevin (January 23, 2012). "Ike Hilliard New Redskins WR Coach; Bob Slowik Moves to LBs". Hogs Haven. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  36. ^ "2015 Washington Redskins Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  37. ^ "Washington Wire". USA Today. November 28, 2019.
  38. ^ "Top draft choices Murray, Bosa make All-Rookie Team". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 16, 2020. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  39. ^ Pryor, Brooke (February 18, 2020). "Steelers add Ike Hilliard to staff as receivers coach". ESPN. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  40. ^ Strackbein, Noah (April 24, 2020). "Steelers Select WR Chase Claypool". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  41. ^ "Steelers vs. Eagles final score: Chase Claypool's record performance propels Pittsburgh to 4-0 start". CBSSports.com. October 11, 2020. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  42. ^ "Pittsburgh Steelers are 4-0 for the first time in four decades". Steelers Wire. October 11, 2020. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  43. ^ Gordon, Grant. "Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, Steelers WR Chase Claypool among Players of the Week". National Football League. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  44. ^ "Chase Claypool Sets Steelers Rookie Records with Fourth Quarter Touchdown". January 3, 2021.
  45. ^ "2 Steelers alternates named to 2022 NFL Pro Bowl". January 31, 2022.
  46. ^ Pryor, Brooke [@bepryor] (February 8, 2022). "Ike Hilliard's contract wasn't renewed, per source. Still, it comes as a surprise. Hilliard was well-liked among the WRs and his departure was a surprise and upsetting to some in the locker room" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  47. ^ Martin, Kimberly. "Redskins assistant Ike Hilliard graduates from college, fulfilling promise to his late mother". The Washington Post.
  48. ^ Carter, Scott. "Hilliard Completes Long Route to UF Degree".