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Dax Hill’s journey at Michigan, 2021 outlook

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Will this be the year Dax Hill’s name is known from coast to coast?

NCAA Football: Army at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most versatile playmakers on Michigan’s roster is safety Daxton Hill, someone with great speed who hits hard and has a knack for being around the football. Hill’s career has just nine starts to this point, but if there’s a year where his career is going to take off, it’s likely to be in there here and now of 2021.

The story so far

Hill was a five-star prospect out of Tulsa, Oklahoma — Hill was ranked as the No. 1 safety and No. 14 overall prospect in the class of 2019.

The recruitment of Hill was an interesting one that had some twists and turns. Hill was initially a Michigan commit before Alabama went for him hard and got him to flip to the Crimson Tide. Ultimately, Hill would flip back to Michigan and sign his letter of intent in December of 2018 on the first day of the early signing period. It was an ecstatic surprise that Hill flipped back to Michigan. Hill’s commitment can be credited to tight ends coach/co-offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, who never gave up during the recruiting process and developed a strong relationship with Hill.

During Hill’s freshman season in Ann Arbor he showed flashes of why he was a five-star recruit with 36 total tackles, two fumble recoveries, and an interception. Hill was one of Michigan’s best players on special teams, and just started to get his feet wet on the defensive side of the ball with three starts.

Hill became a full-time starter in 2020, but didn’t have the season he wanted, and acknowledged that communication and awareness needed to improve collectively for the unit, and for him personally. On the season, one in which Michigan went 2-4, Hill had 46 tackles, one interception, and five pass breakups in six games. Hill’s tackle total ranked No. 2 on the team.

Outlook for 2021

Hill will be operating within a new defense in 2021, but his versatility will be utilized just as much, and likely even more than we’ve seen in the past.

Hill has been putting in the work learning the intricacies of defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s scheme, and he has impressed teammates and coaches. “He’s a kid that’ll stay after practice to get his work in. With a new defense, what we asked him to do in the spring, he impressed me just being able to move around the football field and play at a high level,” safeties coach Ron Bellamy said. “Whether it’s at nickel, safety, or being able to line up and cover receivers playing corner — whatever he was asked to do, he kid did it at a high level. He’s one of the better special teams players that we have on the team. That speaks volumes. We’re looking for big things from Dax this year.”

Cornerbacks coach Steve Clinkscale echoed Bellamy’s comments in regards to Hill being used in creative and various ways. “Our plan right now is for Dax to do a little bit of everything,” Clinkscale said. “We’re gonna need him to kind of be a jack of all trades. He has a skill set of a corner with the ability to make plays as a safety and a mindset of a safety. I’m really excited about all the plays he can make.”

Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson said that Hill was a “monster” in spring ball, and for someone who is perceived to have as high a ceiling as they come, this could be the year Hill becomes a dynamite playmaker that is known from the east to the west.