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Jets new WR Stephen Hill hopes to be next Calvin Johnson, Jerry Rice


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Jets new WR Stephen Hill hopes to be next Calvin Johnson, Jerry Rice

Jets new WR Stephen Hill hopes to be next Calvin Johnson, Jerry Rice

(John Minchillo/ Associated Press ) - Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill speaks to reporters after being selected as the 43rd pick overall by the New York Jets in the second round of the NFL football draft at Radio City Music Hall, Friday, April 27, 2012, in New York.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Stephen Hill certainly has some lofty expectations for himself.

The New York Jets’ speedy second-round pick out of Georgia Tech modeled his game after Denver’s Demaryius Thomas, also a former Yellow Jackets star, but agreed Saturday with comparisons to Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, and “if I could go old school: Jerry Rice.”

That came a day after Joey Clinkscales, the Jets’ vice president of college scouting, loosely compared Hill’s size, speed and height to that of Johnson — which is why New York traded up four spots with Seattle to make sure they got him.

“Yeah, it’s pretty good,” Hill said with a big smile at a news conference at the team’s facility. “It’s really good to be compared to a great athlete. Other than that, I’m trying to make my own name. I’m at the Jets and he’s at the Lions.”

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Hill is expected to step into a starting role opposite Santonio Holmes. He says he worked out during the last few months in Bradenton, Fla., with a number of quarterbacks, including fellow draft picks Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins, and former Jets star Vinny Testaverde.

“I’ve been doing a lot of transitioning, especially at the IMG campus,” Hill said. “It’s really not a big transition. The only transition is playing faster and playing against great guys.”

Hill said catching passes from Testaverde was “amazing, especially after playing with him in the (video) game systems as a kid.”

He had 28 catches for 820 yards — averaging more than 29 yards a catch — and five touchdowns last season for the Yellow Jackets while playing in a triple-option offense. Testaverde gave Hill a number of tips to help him adjust to more of a pro-style offense, such as how to get in and out of breaks better.

“Oh, and he still throws it,” a smiling Hill said.

Despite playing in a system that didn’t throw much, Hill made the most of his opportunities at Georgia Tech. He set the NCAA record by averaging 55.2 yards on his nine touchdown grabs last season. He also averaged 64 yards for his five TD catches last season, topping the single-season NCAA mark of 56.09 yards by Houston’s Elmo Wright in 1968.

While coach Rex Ryan and new offensive coordinator intend to have a run-first style of offense, Hill gives the Jets a receiver who should be able to take pressure off Holmes.

“I love it,” he said. “They actually want me, and they’re expecting a lot of things out of me. I’m going to come out here Day 1 and just play and gradually get myself to being a great player.”

Hill spoke to starting quarterback Mark Sanchez on Friday night about the Jets’ offense and playbook, and wants to talk with backup Tim Tebow, too.

“I know there’s going to be a little bit of change going there,” Hill said, referring to the Jets’ plan to use both Sanchez and Tebow this season.

Hill had just 49 career catches in three seasons at Georgia Tech as a result of the style of offense he was in, but was able to keep a positive outlook.

“Honestly, I didn’t think about how it would affect my NFL chances because Demaryius Thomas came out of the same offense,” he said. “It was a little frustrating because as a receiver, you’re greedy and you want the ball, but the type of guy I am, I just like to win.”

General manager Mike Tannenbaum pointed out that the team liked how Hill kept his commitment to Georgia Tech, despite several other schools — including some with more pass-oriented offenses — showing strong interest late in the process. The Jets might have also been impressed with how Hill showed up to his visit a few weeks ago in a suit and tie instead of sweats, like most players.

“This is actually your job and you’re coming in here for an interview,” Hill said. “This is a business and you have to treat it like a business, so I came up here sharp.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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