There are many uncertainties surrounding college football right now. The 2020 season is still in jeopardy, and even if a season does occur it will do so in empty stadiums with a conference-only schedule. Still, it is never too early to take a look at the Michigan depth chart and the players slated to contribute whenever football does resume. Join us as we comb through the roster and answer key questions heading into this fall.
Chris Hinton, true SO
247 Composite Ranking: 5 stars (DT 4, Overall 31)
2019 Stats: 10 tackles, 0.5 TFL
The expectations are always going to be high for a five-star recruit, but the pressure only increases when the prospect is set to fill a position of need. This is the situation that Chris Hinton finds himself in. The sophomore had a modest freshman year with most of his opportunities coming on special teams, but he should see a big increase in usage this fall.
Hinton is joined by Mazi Smith and Donovan Jeter in the defensive tackle rotation behind Carlo Kemp. Michigan does not always use two tackles on the field at the same time, but when the formation calls for it, look for Hinton to be the player running out there. Though he is still raw, 2020 will be a chance for him to burst onto the scene.
Will Hinton make a tangible impact on the defensive line this season?
Hinton is a beast with a ton of size and power. He partners that with impressive quickness and hands, allowing him to make his way into the backfield and make a play on opposing ball carriers and quarterbacks. He is apparently a pretty smart player and is praised for his understanding of the game and solid technique. This is exactly what Michigan wants out of its defensive tackles.
Though Hinton was quite impressive as a high schooler and looked ready to compete right away, the Wolverines eased him in as a freshman, giving him a few looks in the rotation but ultimately limiting his exposure in his first year. With the rotation thinning out this fall, he should quickly rise up the depth chart and get the amount of snaps his talent warrants.
The ceiling is extremely high for Hinton, but it could take some time to get there. Conditioning is always a focus for big tackles who need to be able to move in space, and while this is not necessarily a weakness for him, it will be something that could ultimately determine his playing time. His level of competition in high school should help get him acclimated quickly, but every player is different.
Kemp is gone after this season, so Michigan will need a couple of the players down the depth chart to really step up. Hinton is the obvious bet to take the lead role going forward, and on paper he looks more than capable of carrying this load. I would expect to see him in packages right away to start the year, and it should not take long for his talent to make itself apparent.