AUSTIN (KXAN) — Jeremy Hills never really got a shot at an NFL career.
“I had one tryout in San Fran, and they didn’t sign me,” Hills said with a laugh.
He’s still making an impact on the playoffs, though, training six guys on three teams still alive in the postseason.
Two of his most high-profile clients, former Longhorn Kenny Vaccaro and Kevin Byard, the highest paid safety in NFL history, trained with Hills this past summer and now have the Titans one win away from the Super Bowl.
“That’s our success,” Hills said.
Byard, who has the most interceptions in the NFL over the past three seasons, credits Hills’ offseason work with his success.
“It’s the most beautiful thing in the world for me because I feel like that’s really me walking in my purpose,” Hills said. “How amazing is it that I have a chance to play, even the smallest role, in helping these guys become successful, live out their dreams?”
After a broken leg prematurely ended his career at Texas, and with the NFL not much of an option, Hills turned to a future out of football but still close to the game.
“I wanted to influence people that were coming up in the sport that I loved,” Hills said.
His first job as a personal trainer came working with his former high school football team for free. But his big break came when he got to help former Longhorn and All-Pro Earl Thomas recover from injury.
“I begged him for a shot, like, ‘Yo, let me help with this rehab process,'” Hills said. “After about eight nos, he finally said okay and it worked out. When you get a co-sign of that magnitude, just be ready for what comes next.”
What came next was a slew of NFL guys, not just former Longhorns, wanting to work with Hills to train in the offseason.
“That’s my favorite part because that really is like the check that your work is real,” Hills said. “I’m super proud, like, chest-poked-out proud that guys are saying, ‘I’m training in Austin with Jeremy Hills’ and then other guys are hitting me up to come do that same thing.”
With 38 pro athletes, ranging from WWE superstars to Olympians, Hills’ impact stretches far beyond the NFL playoffs.