New wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard, hired by the Redskins on Monday, has joined Washington’s coaching staff in Mobile, Ala. to help prepare the seniors on the South team for Saturday’s much-anticipated game.
Hilliard played 12 seasons in the NFL, catching 546 passes for 6,397 yards. The former Giant and Buccaneer caught 35 career touchdowns.
“I was fortunate enough to fool people for 12 years,” Hilliard joked about his playing days. “I absolutely enjoyed every part of it. The highs, the lows, everything you learn from it and take away from it.”
Now 35 years-old, Hilliard will use his experiences — as a player and as an assistant wide receivers coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2011 — to mentor the Redskins’ young pass-catchers.
“[Coaching] is a different ball game. The time that’s spent trying to detail what needs to be detailed in order to get these guys all the information they need to be successful. You appreciate, as a former player, the preparation that’s put in.”
Hilliard will inherit a group of wide receivers led by veterans Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney. Moss struggled through an injury-derailed 2011 campaign that saw him catch under 50 passes for the first time in his seven years in Washington. Gaffney is coming off a career-year.
Young receivers Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul, rookie draft picks past spring who are both prospects in need of some fine tuning, will likely demand more of Hilliard’s attention. He’ll also have the chance to work with Washington’s speediest wide-out, Anthony Armstrong.
“I know I don’t have it all figured it out, not even close,” Hilliard said. “I’ve been blessed enough to be in a position where I can hopefully share my experience, both good and bad, with the guys going forward.”
Hilliard said he hopes to take a little something from every coach he’s ever played for. He cited the “animal” in Sean Peyton as a type of passion he hopes to bring to the sidelines, while saying that he hopes to be as detailed as Jon Gruden.
“I’m hoping that I can lean on my experience a little bit,” he said. “Obviously that’s not going to be what defines who I am as a coach. I have to learn from [offensive coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan]. He’s the guy driving the ship on offense. I’m looking forward to soaking up as much as I can.”