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Top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history: No. 35 Bruce Hill

Photo illustration by azcentral sports

Photo illustration by azcentral sports

Position, years at Arizona: Quarterback, 1973-75

Honors, accomplishments at UA: First-team All-WAC in 1975. … UA went 26-7 in his three seasons as the starting quarterback. … Finished in the national top 10 in total offense in three consecutive seasons.

Why he made our list: Hill put the “1” in Arizona’s powerful 1-2-3 offense, with split backs Willie Hamilton (jersey No. 2) and Jim Upchurch (No. 3) behind him. With Hamilton and Upchurch gone after the 1974 season, Hill carried on, connecting often with star receiver Theopolis Bell as the Wildcats rolled to 424.2 yards per game in 1975, the fifth-best mark in the country.

Hill, undoubtedly the best UA quarterback of the school’s WAC era (1962-77), had a mix of arm strength, quickness and athleticism that would play well in today’s college football.

A running threat in the veer or from the I-formation, he left UA as the school’s career leader in total offense with 6,054 yards — which was about 2,700 more yards than anybody in UA history at that point. Hill also was the career leader in passing yards (5,090) upon his departure.

As a senior, in an era in which even top quarterbacks often had higher interception totals than touchdown passes, Hill threw for 18 scores and was intercepted only three times.

Hill, the team captain in 1975 for coach Jim Young and offensive coordinator John Mackovic, passed for a then-school-record 406 yards against New Mexico in 1975, including an 80-yard strike to Bell. His 451 yards of total offense in the game stood as a UA record for 21 years, until quarterback Keith Smith needed four overtimes to post 502 yards.

Hill’s 45 career touchdown passes rank fourth in school history.

Life after college: Hill’s college skills in UA’s offense didn’t necessarily translate to the NFL-style offenses, and the league still was wary of Black quarterbacks. Hill was not drafted and did not play professional football.

In partnership with the Arizona Republic, we are counting down the top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history. Leave your top 10 at AG’s Wildcat Report on Facebook, and check out azcentral.com for the countdown of ASU’s Top 50 football players.

No. 50 — LaMonte Hunley

No. 49 — Hubie Oliver

No. 48 — Rob Gronkowski

No. 47 — Jim Donarski

No. 46 — Ontiwaun Carter

No. 45 — Steve McLaughlin

No. 44 — John Fina

No. 43 — Glenn Parker

No. 42 — Bobby Lee Thompson

No. 41 — Marcus Bell

No. 40 — Fred W. Enke

No. 39 — Ka’Deem Carey

No. 38 — Juron Criner

No. 37 — Dana Wells

No. 36 — Tom Tunnicliffe

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