2017 Season Countdown: #14 Khalid Hill

2017 Season Countdown: #14 Khalid Hill


August 18, 2017

Khalid Hill (image via Gannett)

Name: Khalid Hill
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 263 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) East English Village
Position: Fullback
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #80
Last year: I ranked Hill #. He carried 25 times for 39 yards and 10 touchdowns; he also caught 16 passes for 118 yards and 3 touchdowns.
TTB Rating: 60

Hill entered college as a bit of a tweener. Was he a tight end or . . . a guy who didn’t really fit a spot? When he committed as a part of the class of 2013, Michigan was in the midst of using bigger tight ends and “U-backs,” but the U-back position was filled by different body types and skill sets than what Hill possessed. Hill didn’t play much during the Hoke era, and he appeared to be buried on the depth chart. Then Jim Harbaugh arrived, and he found a role for Hill in 2015 as an H-back. A void opened after the graduation of Joe Kerridge, though, and Harbaugh had the idea of moving the 6’2″ Hill to fullback. I was initially skeptical because Hill hadn’t taken handoffs before and seemed a little tall for the position, but it worked out better than any could have predicted. Hill led Michigan in scoring in 2016, scoring 10 rushing touchdowns and 13 total touchdowns. He even earned a (self-given) nickname, the “Hammering Panda.”

Despite the Hammering Panda not starting a single game in 2016, he seems more valuable than fellow fifth year senior Henry Poggi. Poggi started more games, but he’s not as athletic or skilled. Hill was a short-yardage and goal line demon, and he was especially good as a lead blocker on toss sweeps. That role should continue, even with the addition of scholarship fullback Ben Mason to the roster. Hill has soft hands and has become trusted by quarterback Wilton Speight. The unknown Mason notwithstanding, I think there would be a big void if Hill were to go down, because he can fill a role as a lead fullback, short yardage runner, pass catcher out of the backfield, and H-back. It’s hard to project him beating last year’s 13 touchdown performance, but teams knew he was going to get the ball on the goal line last year, and they still couldn’t stop it.

Prediction: Part-time starting fullback; 20 carries, 40 yards, 8 touchdowns, plus 14 catches for 110 yards and 1 touchdown

16 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1357
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Aug 18, 2017 at 7:38 AM

    I’m not sure that calling a starter at Hill/Poggi’s position is a useful distinction.

    Yeah, Poggi would run out there first, but I think that’s more a function of the role of the packages he shows up in than anything else. I like both of them, but I always feel like something good is significantly more likely to happen when Hill runs out there. That might also be just a function of the packages Hill shows up in, as I really enjoy that part of the playbook where we try to tip the field and turn the corner on you or misdirect and counter.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 1863
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Aug 18, 2017 at 9:20 AM

    I’m looking forward to Ben Mason taking over. Harbaugh, UMBig11, and others who have seen him practice have had nothing but great things to say

    • Avatar
      Comments: 182
      Joined: 9/15/2015
      ragingbull
      Aug 18, 2017 at 9:52 AM

      mason will be a fun dude to watch. i didnt think he had the lateral quickness to be a big time LB (though im sure wouldve been a monster downhill bw the tackles) but hes a very promising FB prospect. i usually dont favor scholarship FBs unless theyre guys like mason or hill, really tough, versatile athletes with ability to excel in multiple areas…and mason looks to be just that

      • Avatar
        Comments: 528
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Aug 18, 2017 at 6:14 PM

        I hope Hill has become a better blocker. He can obviously catch. The buzz around Mason is very encouraging.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 29
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    greggoblue
    Aug 20, 2017 at 8:58 PM

    I see Hill getting much more involved in the passing game this year with his TE-level sure hands and Pep’s emphasis on the passing game. Chris Evans too, for the record.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 21, 2017 at 7:24 AM

      I would like to see that happen. I think the fullbacks and running backs have been under-utilized in the passing game so far during Jim Harbaugh’s tenure, but I’m not sure if that’s going to change. Evans, Isaac, and Hill are all good receiving options out of the backfield.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 21, 2017 at 10:34 PM

        Very much agree. We’ve seen Harbaugh use a lot of tricks to prop up a woeful run game but this is one piece of the playbook that hasn’t been used very much. I do wonder if some of that has to do with personnel. Hopefully Evans can offer something here and maybe if Ty Isaac gets a bigger piece of the pie we can finally see his long-rumored pass-catching ability.

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2017 at 10:35 PM

    Hill is a) a fullback and b) a fullback with a viable senior backup and a promising freshman backup. I like him as a player very much but this is way too high for a role player.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 22, 2017 at 7:31 AM

      He’s a fullback who led the team in scoring last year. How many TDs did Henry Poggi have when they split reps down the middle? How has Ben Mason done at fullback so far in his college career? Hill’s skill set is superior to Poggi’s, and we don’t know exactly what we have in Ben Mason. I think Mason will be good, but sometimes it’s a struggle as a freshman trying to identify defenses, make decisions on the fly, and handle the increased grind of college football.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 22, 2017 at 11:26 AM

        I think you know that argument (leading scorer) is weak. Hill averaged 1.6 ypc last year. He did fine in a situational role but he wasn’t an impact player.

        Last year you were worried because he never took a handoff before and now arguing his running ability is impactful. I think it’s worth considering that the running part can be done by a many players (even walk-ons) and the other stuff is what matters. This is why Poggi has split snaps with Hill.

        Point taken about Mason being young and inexperienced but he’s the 3rd option and (from practice reports) not a bad one. Overriding all that is that Michigan can just elect to use another WR, TE, or H-back almost anytime it wants to.

        It’s a tough case to make that any FB belongs in the top 15. FBs rarely get draft in the NFL anymore and even when ‘pro style’ offenses were used by pro teams they were never highly drafted. For good reason – it’s not an impact position and it’s one that’s typically on the bench in game-deciding situations.

        The fact that Michigan has excellent depth at FB only heightens the relative insignificance of the top FB on the roster. This is no slight to Hill – a valuable player with a versatile skillset, a fun player, and a fan favorite (me included) – just the reality of the position and the current roster.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3849
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 22, 2017 at 11:34 AM

          Why is scoring 13 touchdowns weak? When’s the last time anyone scored 13 touchdowns in a season? Not to mention Hill was tied for #4 in receptions on the team last year, meaning he’s the #1 returning receiver. And he got Speight out of a couple jams with his receiving and route running ability, including his TD catch against Florida State and catching a couple low throws that were down at his ankles in the flat. You can also use him as an H-back/TE type.

          I don’t think this is too high at all.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6285
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Aug 22, 2017 at 2:05 PM

            The argument that scoring a lot is meaningful is weak. If this was the case extra-point kickers would be critical to team success — they are not. The part that matters is field goal kicking.

            Hill had 1.4% of the team rushing yards and 4.3% of the passing yards. I don’t think he played even 50% of downs. He was not a critical cog in the offense, no matter how many 1 yard TDs he was handed.

            Grant Perry had 183 yards last year (Hill had 118) – he’s the leading receiver from last season. You did not rank him in the top 40 even though WR has way more inexperience and uncertainty than FB.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 3849
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Aug 22, 2017 at 2:12 PM

              I didn’t rank Perry in the top 40 because I expected him to be suspended for part of the season, not because of a lack of production/ability.

              Speaking of weak: Comparing rushing touchdowns to extra points.

            • Avatar
              Comments: 1863
              Joined: 1/19/2016
              je93
              Aug 22, 2017 at 2:36 PM

              Wait, what? Hill not only scored on 1yd Dives, he did it when the opponent knew he was coming (including playoff bound ohio), and in clutch situations (like FlSt)
              Who else on the team was that reliable?

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6285
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Aug 22, 2017 at 3:38 PM

              I think the burden of proof would fall on the side arguing that one guy’s ability to get <2YPC is significantly better than another guy's.

          • GKblue
            Comments: 359
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            GKblue
            Aug 22, 2017 at 3:45 PM

            “You can also use him as an H-back/TE type.”

            This is exactly how I envision him utilized in big packages this year. It would not surprise me to see him and Mason in the backfield at the same time.

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