Peyton Hillis' ascension to star status has been as quick as a singer with a hit song.
The impressive thing is that Hillis is no one-hit wonder. From the early stages of training camp through the eighth week of the season, the Browns running back has been the picture of consistency. Along the way he's been a savior for the offense.
After a 184-yard, two-touchdown performance against New England last Sunday, Hillis' totals are 644 yards and seven touchdowns on 133 carries. Toss in an AFC Offensive Player of the Week award this week, and it's been an impressive first half of the season for the former Denver Bronco.
Suddenly, Hillis' No. 40 jersey is a hot item. A recent appearance to sign autographs brought out an overwhelming number of fans that have been captivated by his hard-running style. The national media is praising his performances, which has been a rarity for any Browns player for many years.
Hillis, who often credits The Lord, isn't letting the adulation change who he is - a country man from Conway, Ark.
"If you want to stay grounded and stay humble, you have to look at yourself and not listen to stuff like that," he said. "Even if you want to stay away, sometimes it gets in your head. I don't want that to happen. It's more important for the people in this (locker room) that we keep winning instead of my personal achievements."
Hillis could be part of one of the most lopsided trades in favor of the Browns in franchise history. In dealing quarterback Brady Quinn to the Broncos, the Browns received Hillis, a sixth-round choice in the 2011 draft and a conditional pick in the 2012 draft, based on Quinn's playing time. Considering Quinn is buried third on the depth chart behind Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow, the conditional pick could be low in the selection process.
Browns general manager Tom Heckert has to be credited for seeing something in Hillis that wasn't seen by Broncos management. Hillis, a seventh-round draft choice in 2008, showed promise as a rookie in rushing for 343 yards and scoring five touchdowns on 68 carries. He had just 20 carries for 77 yards and one touchdown last season.
The impressive thing this season is that opposing defenses have known that Hillis would be the focal point of the offense, yet he's managed to have success most weeks.
"I just know that we need to do our game, and our game is power, smashmouth football," Hillis said. "We need to stay with that."
That smashmouth style is what has made him a fan favorite. The concern is that without a quality backup it might be difficult to play another eight games without wearing down.
Jerome Harrison was supposed to be complement Hillis, but he fell out of favor with the organization and was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for running back Mike Bell. Bell has carried 13 times for a meager 7 yards.
"I feel like my body feels great," Hillis said. "Since that quad pull early in the season my body has always felt good. In college (at Arkansas) I really didn't get too many carries, and in the first two years in Denver I didn't get too many carries. I'm pretty much a fresh body out there."
Hillis has mixed in an impressive dash of athleticism to his style. A couple of times he's jumped over a defender that was going low to make a hit.
"It's something I've always done," he said. "It's one of those things where defensive backs don't expect it."
Hillis has done a lot of unexpected things this season.