Florida International University wide receiver T.Y. Hilton was named MVP of the Little Caesars Bowl after turning in a phenomenal performance on Sunday night. Hilton a junior wide receiver and the 2010 Sun Belt Player of the Year provided the spark that ignited FIU to come back form a 24-7 deficit with 9:44 left in the 3rd quarter. After Toledo kicked a field goal to go up by 17 Hilton returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown to tighten the gap to 10 points, but equally important the return was the shot in the arm that FIU needed to start a comeback in front of a predominantly Toledo Rocket crowd at Ford Field.
Hilton’s 89 yard return and 174 kick return yards were both Little Caesars Bowl records. He also added 32 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. It was Hilton’s hard nosed first down coming off a hook and lateral on 4th and 17 that set up the game winning field goal.
When asked how often FIU practices the hook and lateral Hilton said, “We run it every day, different guy’s in different positions.” FIU coach Mario Cristobal added, “That was the prettiest one of all.”
Cristobal stated that Hilton “is a guy with some of the best instincts of any player that I’ve been around.” Hilton showed those instincts with every electrifying kick return. “We were so excited we couldn’t settle down in the first half”, Hilton said. “We were better in the second half. We played FIU football.” Only a junior it will be exciting to see T.Y. Hilton play this new brand of FIU football in 2011.