Michigan is at a good spot at safety heading into 2021 with Dax Hill and Brad Hawkins returning. There might be more depth at safety in Ann Arbor than at any other position on the defensive side of the ball. One such depth player is R.J. Moten, a highly touted sophomore who will look to crack the two-deep this year.
Let’s take a look at where he comes from and where he’s going.
The story so far
Moten hails from Delran, New Jersey and is one of the highest-rated players to come out of the state. He excelled both on the football field and the baseball diamond. In fact, he was recruited to Michigan to play both football and baseball and likely would have been drafted in the 2020 MLB Draft had it not been shortened due to the pandemic. Moten’s father, Ron, played at the University of Florida in the 1980s and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Rated as a four-star by 247Sports, Moten was lauded as a great athlete who needed to settle on a position. He measured in at 6-feet and 220 pounds coming out of high school. This is an immediately playable size and weight for a Big Ten linebacker/safety hybrid. 247 had Moten as the 256th overall prospect, 17th ranked safety and seventh rated prospect out of New Jersey in the class of 2020.
Moten was originally recruited by Chris Partridge before his departure for Ole Miss. I’m sure the staff had the Viper position in mind for R.J. following the departure of Khaleke Hudson. Now with a new defensive scheme in place, safety seems more likely. He was also recruited by Erik Bakich and the Michigan baseball program, though he has yet to appear on the Michigan baseball roster. Also offered by the likes of Notre Dame, Penn State, Purdue, and Virginia Tech, Michigan finally secured his commitment at the BBQ at the Big House.
In a Covid-shortened 2020 season, Moten only appeared in one game on special teams against Wisconsin. He did not record a stat.
Outlook for 2021
Moten is clearly a physically gifted athlete. However, with Don Brown’s departure, he appears to be a more natural fit at safety in the new Michigan defensive scheme. This could provide luxury for the coaching staff as Moten will not be pressed into early duty with Dax Hill and Brad Hawkins entrenched as starters. With that being said, I would not be surprised to see Moten be the first safety off the bench should depth be needed.
In the long term, Moten appears to be a high-floor type of player who should stick around in Ann Arbor for a few years. He projects to be a multi-year starter as an upperclassman with all-conference honors not being out of the picture. The class of 2020 was huge for the safety position at Michigan with R.J. Moten being the best among them in my opinion.