St. Joseph's of Hammonton is one of the top football programs in the area and this weekend it showed why they can make that claim.

Forget the six straight state titles and 17 overall, they now can stake claim to two NFL players.

Safety Gordon Hill joined defensive end Max Valles, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders, in the National football league signing a free agent deal with the San Diego Chargers.

Hill played collegiately at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, an FCS-level program, where he was a three year starter, but said his time at St. Joe's playing for coach Paul Sacco really taught him a lot about football.

"The first thing that comes to mind is the weight room," Hill told Mike Frankel on the South Jersey Sports Report.  "Work ethic, giving effort on the field, are the biggest things he would stress to us.  We weren't the most athletic teams, but we definitely outworked our opponents."

While Hill played first running back, then fullback at St. Joe's, but he focused in on defense at Sacred Heart and became one of the top safeties at the FCS level, making NFL teams take notice of his ability to always be around the ball.  Hill led the Pioneers with 104 tackles and added six sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries as a senior.

"It was pretty challenging at first," Hill admitted about making the change to defense and not having the ball in his hands anymore.  "Everyone wants to have the ball in their hands, its cool to score touchdowns and you get all the glory as a running back.  Now I really embrace defense and I look forward to it."

While Hill was heavily recruited by any of the BCS-level programs, he entered Sacred Heart with a little chip on his shoulder that many players can have if they feel overlooked or slighted in any way.

"My goal was to kind of change the program around," Hill explained when he got to Sacred Heart.  "We just wanted to make a difference, coming from St. Joe's we were always a winning program."

Hill and Valles grew up together and went to high school together, doing things that most kids do when they are growing up.

"We played a lot of video games in the basement," laughed Hill.  "I was actually just over Max's house before the draft and we just talked about this whole experience, about the future and some reminiscing about the past a little bit."

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