Name: Khalid Hill
Weight: 263 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) East English Village
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
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