University of Hawai‘i head football coach Nick Rolovich has hired Eastern Washington assistant Zak Hill as the Rainbow Warriors’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Hill spent the past seven years as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Eagles.
“I’ve heard Zak’s name for a long time and I got the chance to see him work with quarterbacks at various camps,” Rolovich said. “I’ve enjoyed how he’s dealt with the kids. He’s a well-respected offensive mind and has been with a program that’s been consistently successful for many years. I believe who he is as a person will fit perfectly with the local culture.”
Hill has coached some of the top quarterbacks in the Football Championship Subdivision, including Vernon Adams, Jr. (2012-14), who was a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award as the nation’s top FCS player and current signal caller for the nationally ranked Oregon Ducks. Also among his protégés include Bo Levi Mitchell (2010-11), who recently led the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders to the 2014 Grey Cup and record-setting quarterback Matt Nichols (2009), who finished fourth in the Payton Award voting.
During his nine total years at EWU – including two years as a student assistant in 2004-05 – the Eagles ranked in the Top 10 nationally in passing eight times; six times in total offense; and four times in scoring offense. In 2015, EWU led the nation in passing (353.3 avg.) behind quarterback Jordan West, who ranked second nationally with 300.2 passing yards per game and 30 touchdowns. Also during his time at EWU, the Eagles won the Big Sky Conference (outright or share) six times and the 2010 FCS National Championship.
With Adams at the controls, EWU broke school and Big Sky records in 2014 in scoring (44.1 avg.) and touchdowns (84). Adams finished as the Big Sky’s Offensive Player of the Year twice (2013 & ’14) and was runner-up for the 2013 Payton Award. In 2014, EWU ranked first nationally in scoring; third in total offense (513.4); and second in passing (328.6) while in 2013, the Eagles were fourth in total offense (533.5); fourth in passing (349.8); and seventh in scoring (39.5). Adams also earned Freshman All-American honors in 2012.
Before Mitchell helped the Stampeders capture the CFL title, he was a two-year starter for EWU, helping the Eagles to the 2010 national championship and winning the 2011 Payton Award. Mitchell earned Most Outstanding Player honors in the 2010 FCS championship game as EWU won its first title defeating Delaware 20-19 and capping a remarkable season for Mitchell, who threw for a then-record 37 touchdowns. In 2011, he led the FCS in four categories, including a then-school single-season record 4,009 passing yards.
Hill joined the EWU staff in 2009 and during that season, Nichols finished fourth in the Payton Award voting and earned first-team FCS All-American honors and Big Sky’s Offensive Player of the Year. Nichols is currently a member of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Hill was a record-breaking quarterback at Central Washington from 1999-2003. He broke more than 20 league records and passed for 8,882 career yards (233.7 avg.) while completing 60.2 percent of his passes and 76 touchdowns. He threw for more than 300-yards in 11 games and had at least 200-yards in 24 games. In 2002, Hill led Central to an 11-1 record and was named a third-team All-American. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2013.
Following his playing career, Hill became a student assistant at EWU from 2004-05, working under offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, his position coach at Central. In two years as a student assistant, Hill worked with quarterback Erik Meyer, who won the 2005 Payton Award.
Hill then spent three seasons at Hillsboro High School in Oregon, serving as offensive coordinator in 2006-07. He took over as head coach in 2008 and led the school to a 6-5 record and an appearance in the state Class 5A playoffs.
Hill is a 1998 graduate of Prairie High School in Battle Ground, Wash., where he lettered twice in football and three times in baseball. He was team captain as a junior and senior and twice earned all-league honors while playing football for his father, Butch Hill.
Hill earned his bachelor’s in school health education from Central Washington in 2004. He and his wife, Hollie, have one daughter, Valerie Ann.
Hometown: Battle Ground, Wash.
Alma Mater: Central Washington, BA (2004)
1999-2003, Central Washington
2009-15, Eastern Washington, Assistant (Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator)
2008, Hillsboro High School, Head Coach
2006-07, Hillsboro High School, Assistant (Offensive Coordinator)
2004-05, Eastern Washington, Student Assistant