LAFAYETTE, La – Louisiana’s defense ranked 33rd nationally in total defense and scoring defense in 2020.

It all starts up front in the trenches. Catholic High New Iberia alum Zi’Yon Hill anchors the Cajuns defensive line. The junior was selected as a Pro Football Focus All-American in 2020.

“That was big,” Hill says. “That’s stuff kids dream of growing up. That’s some stuff you say in the yard. ‘All-American Zi’Yon Hill.’ That was big. My mom called me crying. She was excited. She was more happy than me. I’m blessed that I made All-American. That was last year. Now, I’m not an All-American this year. I’m going into next year trying to do the same thing.”

The more accolades that come, the higher the expectations get, even the expectations Hill sets for himself.

In 2021, he wants to double his dominance.

“Last year I finished with five sacks,” Hill say. “This year I want to try to beat that. I want to try to at least get 10-12 sacks. That’s my goal for this year.”

Going into his junior campaign, the New Iberia native says watching film has improved his game over the years.

“When you get to college football, it’s more technique,” Hill says. “The game is more broken down. So I feel like I’m a vet now. I consider myself a vet. I know the game. I know what plays they are going to run. Taking that into consideration, basically preparing for the game before it gets here will help me a lot.”

What also helps is having the guidance of defensive coordinator Patrick Toney, who enters his second year as D.C., fourth overall with the Cajuns.

“Coach Toney is a mastermind,” Hill says. “He knows defenses in and out. I put all my trust in him. I feel like he’s going to make our defense very good.”