Today marks the 50th anniversary of the day that African American football player Darryl Hill stepped on the field against North Carolina State and integrated the ACC as well as college football in the South. Before coming to Maryland, Hill was a star on the Navy’s plebe team where he was a favorite target of future NFL Hall of Famer Roger Staubach. After his stint at Navy, Hill was recruited by Maryland coach Tom Nugent and assistant coach Lee Corso to play for the Terps. Hill resisted the offer at first, not wanting to cause any unwanted attention or trouble, but after much consideration of the challenges he knew he would face, he eventually agreed to become Maryland’s first African American football player and the first in the ACC. After sitting out a year as a transfer, Hill finally suited up and took the field for the Terps on September 21, 1963, in Maryland’s home opener against North Carolina State. Darryl Hill quickly became a top receiver for the Terps and finished the season with 43 catches.
While he says he didn’t have to deal with too much racism on the field, Hill faced plenty of taunts and threats when the team traveled on the road. The hatred from the crowds he faced on the road, though, only motivated him more. Hill has said, “Bigotry was my steroids. It jacked me up into revenge, got the old juices flowing.” He knew that the best way to combat the hatred was to perform and make plays on the field, gradually gaining respect from many of his opponents.
Darryl Hill graduated from Maryland in 1965, earning a degree in economics. He went on to success in the restaurant business before moving to the West Coast where he ran several energy businesses. Hill was also involved in business internationally in both Russia and China. Hill returned to the University of Maryland in 2003 where he worked in Intercollegiate Athletics as a fundraiser. He is currently the CEO and Chairman of the Kids Play USA Foundation, an organization focused on making organized sports affordable for youth.
The University Archives is proud to recognize Darryl Hill’s contributions on the playing field and to his alma mater on this landmark anniversary.