INDIANAPOLIS --- Marvin taught Reggie. Reggie taught T.Y, and now, T.Y. is ready to graduate to the role of mentor. Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton reported back for duty with the rest of his teammates Monday for the start of phase I of the offseason program, the first day he's walked into the locker room and didn't see "#87 Wayne" above two of those lockers in the far right corner. For Hilton, that empty space means it's now his turn to be the leader.
"It's very different. It still hurts me right now. I was still waiting for him to just walk in the meeting room," Hilton told Colts.com Monday. "It's different. It's going to take me some time to get used to it, but I don't think I will."
That's because Wayne may not be in the locker room anymore, but he's still on Hilton's speed dial.
"I keep in contact with him. We still talk. We talked yesterday," said Hilton. "For me, just keep that relationship going and just continue to dominate on the field."
Hilton did just that in 2014, his first Pro Bowl season, after finishing with 82 receptions, 1,345 yards, and seven touchdowns, applying all he's learned from Wayne's mentorship since Hilton entered the league in 2012. Monday marked a graduation day of sorts for T.Y., as he begins to become a mentor himself, as the most productive receiver to wear a Colts uniform left in the WR meeting room.
"Absolutely, I don't really have a choice," answered Hilton, when asked if he will now take on the role Wayne had with him. "I'm the captain of the room. Right now, I gotta make sure everybody's on point, make sure we're on point with Andrew (Luck). For me, whatever (Wayne) taught me, make sure I'm teaching everybody else, because it's only right. Marvin did it with him. He did it for me. Now, I gotta pass on the torch."
That's good news for young Colts receivers, like second-year wideout Donte Moncrief, rookie Duron Carter, and the rest of the wide receiver corp. Adding another veteran like future Hall of Fame wide receiver Andre Johnson won't hurt either.
"Tired of seeing him play against us with the Texans," joked Hilton. "Every time he made a play, I made sure I came back and answered. Right now, we're on the same team, and hopefully, we can make plays together."
Hilton and his fellow wide receivers spent Monday lifting in the weight room and conditioning in the Colts indoor practice field. Those are the only physical activities allowed over the next two weeks during phase I of the offseason program, other than rehab for injured players. The rest of the time was spent in meetings, catching up with old teammates, and getting to know new ones.
So at the ripe old age of 25-years-old, T.Y. Hilton's time has already come to take on a leadership role in Indianapolis, a role he already started to embrace on Monday.