With two 5-stars and a boat load of other highly-recruited players, a good amount of these guys should be expected to perform in some capacity during their first year of college.
Here are my three true freshmen to watch for this fall in Ann Arbor.
Mazi Smith - DT
Grand Rapids’ own Mazi Smith was one of my favorite players in the 2019 class, and Michigan is very fortunate to have him.
At 6-foot-3 and 303 pounds, Smith’s body is already prepared to take on interior offensive linemen in the Big Ten. And it only helps that he enrolled early.
With the departures of Aubrey Solomon, Lawrence Marshall, Reuben Jones and Bryan Mone, there is plenty of opportunity for a guy like Smith to make an impact very early on. He certainly will not be a starter this season, but Don Brown and company may end up burning his redshirt.
He will have some competition with fellow true freshman Chris Hinton, but I’d put money on seeing Smith out on the field sooner rather than later.
Daxton Hill - S
Another player destined to have his redshirt burned is Michigan’s crown jewel of the 2019 class — 5-star safety Daxton Hill.
In case you forgot (how could you though) Hill committed to Michigan, flipped to Alabama and then re-committed to Michigan during the early signing period last December. It was a wild ride for Wolverine and Crimson Tide fans alike, but Michigan ultimately got its guy.
With Tyree Kinnel graduated and only a few guys vying for the starting spot opposite Josh Metellus, I could easily see Hill winning the job. Jim Harbaugh preaches meritocracy. The best players should play right away, no matter if you’re a true freshman or a fifth-year senior. If Hill is the best player fighting for that starting role, he should be the guy.
Hill is a difference-making player. I’m not guaranteeing you’ll see him as the opening night starter, but he should see playing time right away. He is that good.
Zach Charbonnet - RB
With Chris Evans suspended for all of 2019, someone at the running back position is going to have to step up. Enter: Zach Charbonnet.
From a size standpoint — 6-foot-1 and 222 pounds — Charbonnet is your classic between-the-tackles running back. But what makes him special is he also has the speed necessary to take it outside and break into the secondary.
National recruiting analyst Greg Biggins comped Charbonnet to NFL running back David Johnson last November, saying he “has a rare combination of size, strength and speed and runs with decisiveness.”
Charbonnet enrolled early as well, but recovering from a minor knee procedure forced him to miss reps in the spring. That would be the only slight concern here, but he is expected to be ready for the beginning of the season.
As long as his knee procedure and recovery went as planned, I anticipate Charbonnet having his name called early on, not only because of how highly-ranked he was but also because of the thin depth. Tru Wilson and Christian Turner are good players, but Michigan needs a game-changer in the backfield. Charbonnet has the potential to be that guy.
Which true freshman will make the biggest impact in 2019 for Michigan football?
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