Brandyn Hillman, Wolverine

Brandyn Hillman, Wolverine

March 20, 2023
Portsmouth (VA) Churchland athlete Brandyn Hillman (image via SI)

Portsmouth (VA) Churchland safety Brandyn Hillman committed to Michigan on Sunday. Approximately a week after being released from his National Letter of Intent to Notre Dame, he got on board with the Wolverines.

Hillman is listed at 6’1″ and 191 lbs. As a senior in 2022, he passed for 1,312 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he ran for an additional 1,236 yards and 22 touchdowns.

ESPN: 4-star, 80 grade, #33 ATH
On3: 4-star, 94 grade, #5 ATH, #137 overall
Rivals: 3-star, 5.7 grade, #54 ATH
247 Sports: 4-star, 94 grade, #7 ATH, #130 overall

Hit the jump for more.

Hillman was on my radar earlier in the cycle mainly because a certain oblivious Notre Dame recruiting account on Twitter kept bragging about Notre Dame’s recruiting. But he wasn’t really heavily on my radar until Michigan offered him, following his run-in with Notre Dame’s admissions department. That might set off some alarm bells for some, but schools do occasionally run into small snafus getting a kid into school, kind of like when Texas found a way to enroll Xavier Worthy when Michigan couldn’t pull him in. So while our antennae should be up for any potential problems with Michigan’s admissions, I’m going to proceed like he’s just another commitment. Michigan offered Hillman immediately after things went south with Notre Dame, and a visit this past weekend sealed the deal, even though he was supposed to be picking between Ohio State and the Wolverines.

Hillman is a dynamic overall athlete who was responsible for 33 touchdowns as a senior and over 30 touchdowns as a junior. Playing the quarterback position, he has explosive speed, good elusiveness, some toughness, and a knack for earning extra yards by hurdling opponents, stretching the ball over the goal line, etc. He’s just a nice all-around athlete. He does lack the necessary accuracy for the quarterback position, so I don’t think there’s any chance of him sticking on offense in college.

Defensively, Hillman is very raw while playing cornerback, strong safety, and free safety. The speed translates to defense, but he sometimes makes missteps and takes poor angles. His backpedal is very stiff, and he generally seems unsure of himself. My guess is that he’s just not very well refined on defense because he probably spends most of his time working on offense, and playing a few different positions on defense doesn’t help, either. His tackling technique is erratic and generally poor, but he’s not afraid of contact.

Overall, Hillman is a very good athlete who needs some time to develop. Michigan needs to find a position for him, let him mature in his body and his technique, and then see how things go. Personally, I love quarterbacks who move to other positions, because it likely means they have good leadership qualities and a good knowledge base for the game. It has worked out well in the past for players like Courtney Avery (QB to CB), Desmond Morgan (QB to LB), and Luke Schoonmaker (QB to TE). And for what it’s worth, Hillman was a late addition to the Polynesian Bowl roster, and 247 Sports named him the Defensive MVP of the game despite arriving late during the week. So sometimes elite athleticism can take over.

Michigan has now signed 25 incoming freshmen, along with seven transfer players. With a rank of #214 overall in the 247 Composite, Hillman is the fifth highest rated player in the class, behind DE Enow Etta, RB Cole Cabana, CB Jyaire Hill, and WR Karmello English. No player from Churchland has signed with Michigan before, which means Hillman could be the first player to ever play for Michigan whose high school mascot was the . . . Truckers. Yes, they’re the Churchland Truckers.

TTB Rating: 83

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