2020 Season Countdown: #3 Daxton Hill

2020 Season Countdown: #3 Daxton Hill


October 20, 2020
Daxton Hill (image via MLive)

Name: Daxton Hill
Height: 
6’0″
Weight: 
192 lbs.
High school: 
Tulsa (OK) Booker T. Washington
Position: 
Safety
Class: 
Sophomore
Jersey number: 
#30
Last year: 
I ranked Hill #42 and said he would be the starting nickel corner (LINK). He started three games and made 36 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries, and 4 pass breakups.
TTB Rating:
 100

Hill was the best safety in the 2019 class, and expectations were sky-high for him as a freshman. Safety is a tough spot to play for any first-year player, so Michigan worked him in slowly. They had that luxury because the team had senior Josh Metellus and junior Brad Hawkins at safety, plus senior Lavert Hill and junior Ambry Thomas at cornerback.

Hill showed flashes of stardom as a freshman. In week two he caught a 25-yard pass from Michael Barrett on a fake punt against Army. He made a diving interception at Indiana. He made 8 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in the bowl game against Alabama. (Also noteworthy: he got burned for a touchdown on the first play by Jerry Jeudy.)

Now Jim Harbaugh is saying things like “Hill is the most talented athlete on the team.” Don Brown is saying that safety Hill “is the best cover guy on the team.” Word on the street is that the coaching staff has asked Hill to play corner, but he has balked at the idea since he plans to play safety in the NFL.

There was a time that Michigan talked to Hill about playing him both ways in college. I wonder if 2020 may be a year when Hill gets some opportunities on offense. Ambry Thomas got a look on offense as a sophomore in 2018, and Michigan lost three receivers from last season (Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, and Nico Collins). Though there is still talent at receiver, I wonder if Hill might get a chance to make some plays.

Even if Hill sticks to defense only, we should see a big year from him. Though production might be down overall since the Big Ten is only slated to play nine games, I think Hill will have the best season of any Michigan safety since Harbaugh was hired in 2015. He’s fast and tackles well, and a year of experience under his belt should help with fleshing out opposing offenses. I’m excited about what he will bring to the table in 2020.

Prediction: Starting free safety

Hit the jump for some of Hill’s 2019 highlights.

4 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 20, 2020 at 11:20 AM

    This is a fun read and I like the optimism. I had Hawkins ahead of Hill based on experience and starting ahead of him last year but the case made here is solid. He might be a little more ‘boring’ than this but we’ll see.

    I do think the refusal to move to CB is short-sighted. That is something the NFL would value to show pure coverage ability and versatility. These are just as important, if not more important, than really knowing and executing a college system from safety.

    Anyway, for this season I don’t know how much difference Hill’s position makes. It’s a minor detail in sorting out a secondary that needs 5 or 6 guys beyond viper. Hill’s the most versatile of the top 3. He’s in there every down. What they need is somebody to step up into the 4th, 5th, and 6th spots. If that guy is a deep safety (like say Paige) then Hill is going to end up covering receivers on most 3rd downs either way. If they can’t even find a 2nd corner from the bunch we’re in deep trouble either way.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 20
    Joined: 6/19/2020
    Blue
    Oct 20, 2020 at 3:53 PM

    This post is just brimming with optimism.

    Do you think we’ll see him returning punts now that DPJ is in the NFL?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 20, 2020 at 8:26 PM

      I think the coaches probably believe he’s too valuable to put out there returning punts and kickoffs.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 295
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    Extrajuice
    Oct 21, 2020 at 11:36 AM

    Safeties just don’t have as much impact that’s why they are rarely drafted in top half of 1st round in NFL. I think many of his athletic abilities are being misused. I was hoping he would take to CB. I just think Hutchinson and McGrone are going to be the studs on defense. You’ll probably see flashes of Dax Hill but we’ll all be thankful for the other two much more (I don’t think Kwity will be as useful). Athletically Dax Hill is top 3 but as a difference make he’s probably only top 15.

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