Ex-Georgia Tech star Drew Hill dies at 54

Former Georgia Tech and NFL standout Drew Hill died Saturday at Piedmont Hospital after suffering two strokes earlier this week. Hill was admitted to the hospital Thursday after becoming ill while playing golf. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Hill, 54, is in Tech’s record books in several categories: receiving yards per season (t-15th, 708, 1978), receiving yards/career (19th, 1,080, 1975-78), and yards per reception/career (t-4th, 19.3).

“Drew was one of my favorite players,” said Pepper Rodgers, Hill’s coach while at Tech. “He was always a good friend and a team man.”

Rodgers recruited Hill from Newnan. He was one of several players, along with Eddie Lee Ivery, Kent Hill and Lucius Sanford, who were drafted into the NFL in the same year. Rodgers said he was in contact with those players and others, either by phone or email, when he learned of Hill’s death.

“It was an honor to be a part of those guys and their college careers,” Rodgers told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Drew was one of my favorites because he was not a selfish player and whatever you asked him to do, he did it, and he did it with a smile on his face.”

Rodgers said he last saw Hill at a Tech football game last season. He was with a group of former players being honored for being the first black players at Tech.

“He looked great and had a smile on his face,” Rodgers said. “I’m saddened about what happened.”

Hill caught 634 passes for 9,831 yards and 60 touchdowns in the NFL. He was selected by the Rams in the 12th round of the NFL draft in 1979. He played for the Falcons in 1992-93.

"When I first went out to Los Angeles, I expected I'd be coming back on the first bus out of there," Hill told the AJC in January 1994. "What I've accomplished ... well, it's not too bad for a scrawny kid from Newnan, I guess."

Before going to the Falcons, Hill played seven seasons with the Houston Oilers and was one of the team's more popular players during the franchise's "run-and-shoot" era.

He was on two Pro Bowl teams and played in one Super Bowl.

“As a player, I remember Drew being all vertical. He was a great deep threat, fast but very smooth," Green Bay Packers scout Alonzo Highsmith, the Oilers’ top draft choice in 1987, told the Houston Chronicle.

“As a person, Drew was quiet and humble. He never sought attention for himself. He was a great guy and a great teammate. We used to play poker at his house. We had so much fun. He’s going to be missed by many," Highsmith told the Chronicle.

Hill retired after 15 seasons in the NFL, telling the AJC at the time that he wanted to get into private business and also be with his family after his grandmother had passed away.

Hill recently worked as a businessman.

Staff writer Doug Roberson and the Associated Press contributed to this article.