Name: Lavert Hill
Weight: 182 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) King
Jersey number: #24
Last year: I ranked Hill #11 and said he would be the starting cornerback with 30 tackles and 2 interceptions (LINK). He made 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception (returned 21 yards for a TD), and 5 pass breakups.
TTB Rating: 84
Hill has somehow managed to become a shutdown corner at the University of Michigan with very little fanfare. He was Second Team All-Big Ten in 2017, First Team All-Big in 2018, and still not many in the media seem to be making a big deal of him. Perhaps it’s because other teams don’t target him much, so his numbers are modest: 41 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 3 interceptions over the course of three seasons.
Those modest numbers might also be because other teams haven’t had time to target him very much. Michigan has had a very good pass rush in recent years, whether it’s been organic with excellent defensive ends or established through the blitz. Either way, this should be an interesting year, because Michigan lost a lot on the defensive line and an excellent middle linebacker blitzer in Devin Bush, Jr. The defensive backfield might have to cover a little bit longer, so will that affect their targets? Will their counting stats go up? Only time will tell. I do not have a great deal of faith in Michigan’s defensive line as a whole for 2019, so I think Hill will get a few more targets, make a few more targets, and get his hands on the ball a little more.
Aside from his excellent play, his importance cannot be overstated. He might even deserve to be #1 in the countdown with how the roster is currently constructed. Michigan needs him to play and play well in 2019 while Ambry Thomas comes back from colitis. Thomas is back practicing, but it’s hard to say how rusty or out of shape he will be after some missed time. The Wolverines were already questionable with Vincent Gray stepping in at corner for Thomas, but if Hill and Thomas were both to miss time . . . yikes. Hill has struggled with nagging injuries in the past, so hopefully he stays as close to 100% as possible this season.
Prediction: Starting cornerback; 25 tackles, 2 interceptions