The Wolverine

March 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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BY JOHN BORTON D axton Hill's speed has daz- zled many a prep receiver into resigned ineffective- ness. Now it's causing a former quarterback to race past the typical wait-and-see projections on rookies. The 6-0, 190-pound safety out of Booker T. Washington High in Tulsa, Okla., clocks in under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash (an electronically timed 4.3 at Nike's The Opening), an amazing achievement for his size. This doesn't involve a gym teacher with an itchy stopwatch finger, ei- ther, if you believe Hill's high school coaches. Or, for that matter, if you believe his new head coach, Jim Harbaugh. "I haven't seen a game he wasn't the fastest guy out here," Harbaugh noted on his 'Attack Each Day' pod- cast. Harbaugh later noted: "He's got the ability to be one of the best safeties Michigan has ever had." That sort of talk takes the typical assessment cautiousness and shoves it into a maize and blue dumpster. That's okay by Hill, a quiet young man who plans to run past all the words, encouraging and otherwise. "The coaches just really like my speed," Hill said. "They know that I can cover just about anyone and also get to the quarterback." Mike Blitch knows. He's seen it over and over again. Hill's prep defensive backs coach has watched the safety standout reclaim plays that appeared to be lost to a runaway offensive per- former. "It's huge," Blitch began, when asked about Hill's speed. "There are so many times something has squirted through or something has gotten by at the next level, and he's just come from behind to make a play. "It's exceptional speed. It's unlike what a lot of kids are going to see at the high school level. He's so much faster than everybody else and so gifted athletically. It's pretty crazy to watch." That speed comes into play as well when Hill gets the football in his hands. He doesn't require snaps on offense for that to happen. "We had a play last year in the play- offs, where there was a fumble and he picked it up," Blitch recalled. "He took it the other way about 90 yards. He just ran past everybody. It wasn't even going to be close. "He does a few things like that. If he gets the ball in his hands, he's going in the other direction. I looked at the numbers. He touched the ball about 15 times defensively the last two sea- sons, and he scored on eight of them. … His ability to get loose and just out- run everybody is crazy." Hill packs power, along with the fast pace. While his speed helped him amass 11 interceptions and 20 pass breakups over a four-year prep varsity career, he also logged 276 tackles, 17 of them behind the line of scrimmage. Speed acknowledged, Hill is no finesse defensive back, Blitch made certain to point out. "He's physical," Blitch said. "You STATISTICS Year Tackles TFL INT PBU 2018 93 9 2 9 2017 71 6 5 11 2016 45 0 2 — 2015 67 2 2 — HONORS • USA Today All-America first-team selection as a senior. • Second-team All-American in 2018 according to MaxPreps. • Selected as the 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year in Oklahoma. He is the third player from his high school to be selected for the award. • Named one of 16 semifinalists for the 2018 Maxwell Football Club De- fensive National Player of the Year. • USA Today first-team All-State choice as a junior and senior, and was his state's Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. • Named first-team All-State by The Oklahoman in 2017 and 2018. • Was a first-team All-State choice in 2017 and 2018 by the Tulsa World. The outlet named him one of five finalists for the 2018 Defensive Player of the Year, but the honor is not awarded until June. RECRUITMENT • Committed to Michigan Dec. 19, 2018 by signing his Letter of Intent. • Originally committed to U-M Sept. 19, 2018, but flipped to Alabama Dec. 8, before switching back to Michigan. • Also had offers Clemson, Florida and Georgia, among others. • Recruited by tight ends coach Sher- rone Moore. DAXTON HILL SAFETY 6-0 • 190 BOOKER T. WASHINGTON H.S. TULSA, OKLA. RANKINGS STARS NAT. POS. STATE ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 24 1 1 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 23 2 1 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 13 1 1 2019 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE 2019 Projection Hill is an absolutely massive get on the recruiting trail. He's been billed as one of the best overall safety prospects in the last five years and has a complete skill set. Hill will challenge for a top spot on the depth chart immediately. He's simply too fast, too smart and too good to keep off the field as a true freshman. RUNNING DOWNHILL Daxton Hill Injects More Speed At Safety Hill was a consensus five-star recruit and ranked among the top 24 prospects nation- ally by all three major recruiting services. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM 28 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2019

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