To the surprise of virtually no one, Michigan Wolverines’ safety Daxton Hill has entered the 2022 NFL Draft. Hill came to Michigan as a five-star safety out of Tulsa and was as highly touted as any defensive back we’ve seen in Ann Arbor in recent memory. His departure leaves a sizable hole in the Michigan secondary but hanks to some excellent recruiting of late, Michigan is prepared for Hill’s departure.
RJ Moten started out the year as Hill’s primary backup. Moten, a redshirt freshman out of Delran, New Jersey, was a two-sport phenom out of high school (baseball). His father played for the University of Florida and then the Philadelphia Eagles in the late ‘80s. Moten played admirably early in the season and was even on the field alongside Hill when he slid down to the nickelback spot. Brad Hawkins rarely left the field so it was usually Hill/Hawkins in the safety slots unless Hill was in the nickel. However, as the season wore on Hill’s primary backup switched thanks to the emergence of Rod Moore.
Moore appears to be the main scouting win for Jim Harbaugh and staff in the class of 2021. Rod came to Ann Arbor from Clayton, Ohio, as a speedy three-star who was overlooked by most programs. Moore started the season playing exclusively on special teams and looked to be a lock for a redshirt when all of a sudden he exploded onto the scene. By the Penn State game, Moore had supplanted Moten on the depth chart and started at safety. Against Ohio State, he made a career-high nine tackles, which is quite a bit for a true freshman in his first crack at The Game.
Moten is more of a physical safety as he has almost 50 pounds on Moore. However, with the way college football has evolved lately, speed is being prioritized more and more. I fully believe Moore will be given the first crack at replacing Hill in 2022. Given the success he had late in the season, it would not surprise me if Moore flourishes and holds down the starting job for several years to come. If not, Mike Macdonald won’t hesitate to play the older Moten or one of the other highly regarded safeties as a dark-horse.
Outside of that group, don’t be surprised to see some guys in the 2022 recruiting class make appearances at safety already in their first year. Some of them are good enough to see the field on day one.