Throughout his career, Justin Hilliard has overcome injuries and doubters.

When he arrived in Columbus as a five-star recruit, the talented linebacker wanted to make a big impact for the Buckeyes and play in the NFL. Although he was setback by injuries, Hilliard ended up becoming an Ohio State captain and a starting linebacker and is now playing in the league.


Hilliard recently took some time out of his busy offseason schedule to discuss his first year in the league, rehabbing from yet another injury and his future with Eleven Warriors.


You signed with San Francisco, what was that first day of camp like with the 49ers?


Hilliard: First, I wouldn’t really call it a signing. Draft day was the craziest freaking day of my life, oh my God. I was honestly so expecting to get drafted, so I was waiting around until the fifth or sixth round and I wasn’t hearing much. For those guys who don’t get drafted, or who don’t get drafted until the sixth round, you start getting calls in the sixth round. So, I had teams starting to recruit me.


Before going into the draft, me and my agent kind of already had a plan of the teams I wanted to go to if it went down and me going undrafted. And at the very top, I knew if I didn’t get drafted I was going to San Fran. Soon after the draft, hit them up. Cleared that up, then headed there the day after.


My first day, I would say, honestly that whole first part of being a 49er was like that was the biggest chip on my shoulder I ever had. I was so excited to be a 49er, but I still had that feeling, I knew I should have been drafted. I felt like I was better than some of the guys that I saw go before me. It was kind of a euphoric feeling. before me. But at the same time I didn’t experience all that because I had this massive, still do, have a massive chip on my shoulder.


Some people believe that by not getting drafted, you get to play the card of “I get to pick where I go.” Did you spin it that way, or would you have rather been drafted?


Hilliard: I would have rather been drafted for sure. When looking back on it, everything that happened, happened for a reason. I wouldn’t have changed anything, honestly.


I picked San Fran not because I would have had the best chance to make the team, but because I wanted to go learn from guys like Fred Warner. I wanted to be a part of that culture they had at San Fran. Yeah, that’s why I chose them.


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