A veteran of nine years on the EWU football staff, Hill helped Eagles lead the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing offense in 2015
Zak Hill, an assistant football coach at Eastern Washington University for nine seasons, will be leaving EWU for the offensive coordinator position at the University of Hawaii and new head coach Nick Rolovich, the Rainbows announced Tuesday (Dec. 10).
No timetable has been set for Hill's replacement at EWU, but the school will move expediently as possible to fill his position.
The coach of some of the top quarterbacks in the history of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Hill, 36, served the past eight seasons as Eastern's full-time quarterbacks coach. He also was the team's passing game coordinator and pro liaison, and previously was a student assistant coach for the Eagles in 2004 and 2005.
"He's worked incredibly hard and meant to so much to Eastern," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "He's helped us build our program and our offense, and specifically our passing game. He's been a major factor in Eastern producing All-America quarterbacks and taking our offense to a level where year-in and year-out we are among the top teams in the nation in passing offense."
In his nine total years at Eastern (2009-15, 2004-05), EWU has ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision eight times in passing, six times in total offense and on four occasions in scoring. Among the quarterbacks he coached were two-time Walter Payton Award runner-up Vernon Adams Jr., and 2011 Payton winner Bo Levi Mitchell.
"I absolutely loved my time here at EWU and I want to thank our athletic director Bill Chaves and head coach Beau Baldwin for the opportunity I had at Eastern," said Hill. "Coach Baldwin has been a huge influence on me as a coach and in my life. There is no way I have this opportunity to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Hawaii without him."
The Eagles, after finishing 6-5 overall and 5-3 in the 2015 season, continued an incredible run of Offensive MVP honors in the league when wide receiver Cooper Kupp was selected for that award in 2015. Twelve times in school history EWU players have won that honor, including 11 of the previous 15 seasons since 2001 – eight times with Hill on the coaching staff.
Under Hill's tutelage, Vernon Adams Jr. won the award in both 2013 and 2014 before departing the Eagles to close out his collegiate career at Oregon. Other winners while Hill was at Eastern included Mitchell (2011), Taiwan Jones (2010) Matt Nichols (2009) and Erik Meyer (2005 and 2004).
In 2015, Eastern ranked eighth in FCS in total offense with an average of 478.5 yards per game, including the nation's top passing offense (353.3 per game). Eastern was also 19th in scoring offense (34.6), a year after leading FCS with a 44.1 average. Eastern had two of the top six performances for total offense in school history in 2015, including 667 against Montana State to rank fourth.
Baldwin was quarterbacks coach at Central Washington University during Hill's freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. In 38 career games at Central, Hill re-wrote the Great Northwest Athletic Conference record books. En route to breaking more than 20 league records, he passed for 8,882 career yards (233.7 average per game) while completing 60.2 percent of his passes with 76 touchdown passes. He received his bachelor's degree at Central in 2004.
Hill is a 1998 graduate of Prairie High School in Battle Ground, Wash., where he lettered twice in football and three times in baseball while accumulating a 3.73 grade point average. He was team captain as a junior and senior, and twice earned all-league honors. He played football for his father, Butch Hill, who is a member of the Hall of Fame at Central Washington. His father was a two-time All-America pitcher at Central and also played quarterback for four seasons.
Hill will be joined in Hawaii by his wife Hollie and their daughter, Valerie Ann (2), who was born on Feb. 21, 2013.
"I'm lucky to have a wonderful wife Hollie who is very supportive in moving our family over to Hawaii," he said, "and I want to thank my parents Butch and Ann Hill for all their support through my life. I will miss EWU and Eagle nation greatly but I'm excited to start a new challenge at UH. I also want to thank Coach Rolovich for the opportunity at Hawaii and entrusting the offense to me."
"We are very happy for coach Hill, Hollie and his entire family for this opportunity," added Baldwin. "He will be missed by us, but it's a great opportunity and we wish him nothing but the best."