Mike Hilton probably couldn’t have imagined starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers if you’d have asked him a year ago.
Hilton, a defensive back, was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots in 2016. With his football prospects running dry, he applied for a job at an Atlanta-area Foot Locker and was in the process of being hired as a sales representative, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler.
He wasn’t giving up on football. Instead, he simply was looking to make enough money to pay the bills and pay for training while he bided his time waiting for his next chance.
Hilton was offered a spot on the Steelers’ practice squad late in the season. Less than a year later, he’s become a starter in the slot for Pittsburgh. He earned that first start last week against the Minnesota Vikings after overtaking William Gay on the depth chart.
Hilton made 8 tackles and played in 83.1 percent of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps. Now he’s looking to seize hold of that starting role in the slot permanently and put the idea of a side job on the backburner for the next decade or more.
Still, it’s remarkable to take stock of how far the Ole Miss product has come and how fast.