2013 Recruiting: Delano Hill Comment Count

Brian May 13th, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling

Detroit, MI – 6'1", 190


Scout 4*, #21 S, #7 MI #270 overall
Rivals 4*, #23 S, #7 MI
ESPN 3*, #23 S, #11 MI
24/7 4*, #25 S, #4 MI
Other Suitors Iowa, Pitt, Syracuse, Illinois, Cincinnati, ND (interest only)
YMRMFSPA Poor man's Marlin Jackson
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Cass Tech(like everybody man). Member of the Greg Oden club. I think it's the mustache.


Hill doesn't have a full senior highlight reel. Maize and Blue News did get some film of him from a couple games:

And he's got the usual junior reel:


Did I say Michigan had recruited three oversized corners in this class? I may have meant four, as despite being a strapping 6'1", 190-and-counting pounds, Cass Tech safety Delano Hill also got the "we try you at corner first" spiel:

For Michigan a big factor was clearly the determination that the 6-1, 190-pounder can also play corner.  According to Hill, it’s not a position that is as foreign to him as some might think.

“At Cass Tech we play a lot of man to man coverage, so our safeties have to cover,” he explained.  “So (the safeties) cover the slot a lot.  And I’ve played corner.  I try to be versatile and play every position in the defensive backfield.  (Michigan) said I can play both, but they are going to start me off at corner.”

That was not a fluke, either. Hill started poking around before his Michigan offer and got some interest from Notre Dame. They were thinking about him in the same way:

"ND really likes Delano as a corner and he's starting to like them as well," Crowell said. "He's getting looks from everywhere all of a sudden. I'm pretty sure Arkansas is going to offer soon and Florida and Florida State are asking about him."

Whether that's at boundary or nickel I don't know, but a couple of recruiting analysts suggested it could be the former. It appears that everyone short of a 6'4" Jeremy Clark will be tried at corner first, with those who can't hack it moved to safety.

Somebody has to play there, though, and with Dymonte Thomas currently holding down the nickel spot the assumption here is that Hill's dalliance at corner is just that and by the second week of fall practice he's eyeing the two-deep at safety.

Michigan actually passed the first time around, only offering Hill a couple months after an eye-opening performance at the… er… Opening. By that time he had been committed to Iowa for months. He flipped in four days. Who is your daddy. Yes. Your daddy.

Anyway, Hill comes in with an enticing combination of size, speed and lick-depositing ability. He'd run respectable 40s at various camps in the 4.5-4.6 range; he laid down a 4.44 at The Opening, and backed that up with his play. A compilation of things said in the aftermath:

  • Allen Trieu (Scout): "good sized safety who surprised by how he could move that frame … used that speed to make a number of big plays in 7 on 7s, including a pick six."
  • Barton Simmons (247): "A safety with some size and physicality to him, no one expected Hill to be near the top of the list in the 40-yard dash. In fact, if we thought he had this kind of speed, his ranking would likely be a good bit higher."
  • Keith Niebuhr (247): "always one of the better safeties in attendance [at camps]. With his performance this weekend he was once again one of the best safeties in attendance but among a much stronger field. … Iowa [erp!] is getting a star."
  • A non-bylined 247 article talked up Hill's "movement efficiency," which Hill has "in spades." Sayeth 247, "He may not look like he is moving fast but he doesn’t take false steps and he gets where he’s going in an effortless manner."

The best 40 at the Opening was a just tenth faster than Hill's; combined with his size that's impressive.

That performance followed a series of other strong camp appearances. Hill won the Columbus NFTC DB MVP (hope you like acronyms!). ESPN picked an all-combine team that was Cam Burrows and three Michigan guys: Reon Dawson, Ross Douglas, and Hill:

DB: Delano Hill, 6-0, 194, Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.)
Breakdown: Hill is the prototypical ball-hawking safety, impressing with his ability to up and get the ball over receivers. Easily made some of the days best plays and was awarded MVP of the group.

Yeah, Hill beat out the other two eventual M commits and OSU five-star-ish CB Burrows. Here's why($):

…made a lot of plays in one-on-one and 7-on-7 play. He sees the field extremely well from his safety position, and closes passing lanes quickly. In each of the events we have covered Hill at in recent months he has come down with a number of interceptions, and that was the case again on Saturday. Usually cornerbacks take home MVP awards from the defensive back group because a lot of the work is in man coverage. Hill's win as a safety attests to his abilities in pass coverage.

Scout mentioned that he is "not a corner, but can cover man to man" before going with "solid, dependable, and always seems to be making plays." At the Only Incompetent Germans invitational($), Hill played corner, showed himself "extremely fluid for a safety when he flips his hips to run with receivers" and displayed "outstanding field vision."

Meanwhile, that tackling stuff bit is also reputed a strength. ESPN's eval($) echoes the above assessment of his good-for-a-safety man coverage skills; they get a little gushy about the other important bit of being a safety:

Hill is an aggressive run defender with good zone coverage skills; also displays the athletic skills needed to cover inside receivers.  … a tough customer who demonstrates the open field tackling skills which not only limits yards after contact but should prove beneficial as a special teams coverage defender. We see the flexibility, agility and balance needed to play in space; does a good job coming out of his pedal and flipping the hips when covering inside receivers. … His run support is outstanding; will come up and force off the edge while demonstrating quickness filling the ally; is a very aggressive downhill run defender with the ability to move through traffic; displays very good long pursuit ability.

This is another eval that doesn't match up with an ESPN ranking. They place Hill a three star outside of the top ten kids in Michigan and this evaluation finishes by saying "he may not be an immediate starter" but it'll be tough to keep him off the field early in his career. Go figure.

In any case, Scout's Allen Trieu also notes that he is a "very sure tackler"

Tackling: One of his strengths is that he is a very sure tackler. He plays under control, has good technique, and I've rarely seen him miss tackles or take bad angles.

Bottom Line: Good size, good speed, and a good skill set. Hill is a great pickup for Michigan, as he brings a little size into this secondary class. He should be a great special teamer as well.

Trieu reiterates that on Hill's scout profile, listing instincts and tackling as assets:

A good sized safety and a sure tackler in the open field. Does a good job of diagnosing plays, finding the football and coming in under control when attacking ball carriers. In coverage, he can play over the tight end and slot and cover man to man or in zone.

And since he is a Cass Tech safety he of course must be ripped. Rivals:

Several of the players on this list are well-traveled on the off-season camp circuit, and that includes Hill. The frequent competition has helped Hill's progression but does not appear to have kept him out of the weight room. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder gets thicker and more ripped every time we see him, yet he still is out there moving well and showing plenty of range from his safety position.

So this all sounds fantastic. Hill has speed, acquits himself decently enough in man coverage to get looks at corner from ND and Michigan, and brings excellent tackling ability to the table.

He's a fringe four star on three of the four sites, but it seems like there must be a catch, right? The scouting above is that of a consensus top 100 player, as it describes a reliable, heavy-tackling safety who can cover. The offer list is pretty meh though. Michigan took their sweet-ass time getting around to their offer. Maybe that was because they had an inkling he'd flip to them whenever they did, but, like, where's the Michigan State offer, let alone PSU/OSU/ND?

I don't know, man. That's the only red flag in a recruiting profile that otherwise indicates stardom beckons.

Etc.: Hoe is het met Delano Hill? Wilcher:

“Delano runs 4.4 and at worst a 4.49.  He runs between 21-something and a 22 flat in the 200.  He has good recovery speed and good footwork.  Great feet.  He can play anything.  He is tall, he is strong, and he is physical.  He is going to be able to go out there and lock up people (at corner) or he can drop back and play safety.  He has got it going on.”

Why a poor man's Marlin Jackson? At just over 6-foot-even and around 200 pounds, Jackson was a kick-ass run defender as a boundary corner, probably the best I've seen at Michigan. He was also a corner-safety tweener both at Michigan, which moved him to safety his junior year and back as a senior, and in the NFL.

He was also a near five-star recruit, which Hill isn't. Okay, so Hill's not likely to live on a five-star receiver's hip as a true sophomore. If he is really a boundary corner/safety tweener with "outstanding" run support, he may not be far behind. At the very least his cover skills can be an asset underneath and against tight ends.

Guru Reliability: Exacting. Hill hit a ton of camps, has electronic 40s, plays at Cass Tech, and the rankings above are an eerie consensus: #21 S, #23 S, #23 S, #25 S. I don't see why he doesn't rank higher—basically no one has a negative for him—but he's thoroughly scouted even if the rankings don't necessarily match the scouting.

Variance: Low. Already at pretty much college size, playing the position he projects to in college, a lot of experience, all the camps. Seems to have a good grasp of safety nuances already. High floor kid.

Ceiling: High. 200 pound safety running a 4.4 who has good hips for his position.

General Excitement Level: High? I guess so. I am usually skeptical about Cass Tech recruits because they just don't work out all that often (Joe Barksdale and Thomas Gordon are the only ones I can recall from probably about a dozen), but Hill is appropriately sized for his position and gets universal praise for safety skills… all of them.

The downside is offers. Hill did not pick up another elite offer other than the Michigan one, and while being committed usually slows down that sort of thing, Michigan had to be convinced late. What is the disconnect between the scouting reports, which sound great, and the offer list?

Projection: With Dymonte Thomas competing at nickel and Marvin Robinson gone, Hill has a clear path to early playing time on special teams with an eye to replacing his Cass Tech counterpart in year two. He'll have to wrest the job away from Jeremy Clark and possibly Thomas; I think he will.



May 13th, 2013 at 4:16 PM ^

"He'll have to wrest the job away from Jeremy Clark and possibly Thomas; I think he will."

Methinks you buried the lede...

Jack Daniels

May 13th, 2013 at 4:17 PM ^

Do you think Thomas will stay at nickel as an attacking blitzer + capable pass defender for his entire career or might he move to safety after this year? If Michigan gets Peppers, Peppers could wrestle a starting position away from Taylor and Countess, but it wouldn't be likely. I would assume he would force his way into playing time at safety, especially with an open spot, so you would have Taylor and Countess with Hollowell, Richardson, and the 2013 RS guys at CB, with Jarrod Wilson, Clark, Hill, perhaps Stribling, and Peppers at S. where would Thomas fit in that equation? I say nickel


May 13th, 2013 at 6:04 PM ^

You could end up with a similar situation to when Leon Hall came to Michigan.  As a freshman, he played the nickel spot but also started one game in place of Jeremy LeSueur.  Then Hall started after that.  I think Peppers needs to be on the field ASAP; if he's not better than Raymon Taylor immediately, it won't take long.  If he were to come to Michigan, I think Peppers could be your nickel guy with Taylor/Countess at the corners and Wilson/Thomas as the safeties.  And then you could plug in Peppers pretty much anywhere if there's a departure/long term injury.


May 13th, 2013 at 6:23 PM ^

Yeah, that makes sense.  I think Peppers will be better than Taylor after not too long, but by that point Taylor will be a senior beginning his third year as a starter and those guys tend to be difficult to unseat.  However, maybe Peppers takes his starting spot and Taylor plays the nickel as a senior.  


May 13th, 2013 at 6:08 PM ^

I think part of it will depend on what our base defense is/best 11 on the field.  If you have two excellent safeties not named Thomas and Thomas is excellent in run support/blitzing, the staff would consider  nickel as a base formation.  On the other hand if you have a can't miss third linebacker you want out there, then you start thinking about sticking with the 4-3 under and Thomas as a safety.  

It's hard to project in that the evolution of the entire roster determines it, not just one or two players.  Not to mention what the teams we play.  For example in a run heavy league you start the more of the box safety types over having a pair of safeties who can run a Cover 2 and take away the deep ball.  


May 13th, 2013 at 4:22 PM ^

His was the last jersey I bought until just yesterday. I ordered a sweet Chet Lemon Tigers jersey. He's my all time favorite. Maybe I should have labeled this OT...


May 13th, 2013 at 4:30 PM ^

a ridiculous year for safties if a 6'1" 200lb guy with 4.4 speed who is a sure tackler and covers well has over 20 safties ranked in front of him.... 

School 4 the Gifted

May 13th, 2013 at 5:09 PM ^

....think we have another Leon Sandcastle? Kid looks like he's 35 and if I do say so, I'd say he looks a lot like Leon's, er, Deion's old teammate Michael Irvin. Guess he's trying another position and adding some speed.....the physical kind not the illegal kind. Although with Irvin, you just never know....

You heard it here first.


May 13th, 2013 at 5:10 PM ^

...that his lack of big time offers is partially due to his Cass connections or that he was/indicated he was leaning Blue pretty early on in the recruiting process?  I don't follow recruiting religiously, so can anyone confirm/deny this theory for me?   

Blue in Denver

May 13th, 2013 at 5:19 PM ^

"At just over 6-foot-even and around 200 pounds, Jackson was a kick-ass run defender as a boundary corner, probably the best I've seen at Michigan."


Did Woodson play field corner?  I love Marlin Jackson but Woodson is by far the best CB against the run I've seen in a winged helmet.  Come to think of it I can't think of a better one I've seen in college football.


May 13th, 2013 at 6:08 PM ^

The gist that I got when following Delano Hill's recruitment is that he's a stellar athlete when it comes to measurables (size, speed, leaping ability, etc.) but hasn't put it together on the field.  He's a Michael Cox/Josh Furman type, who can run fast and pass the eyeball test but doesn't make plays consistently.

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see the balls-to-the-wall, aggressive, playmaking instincts/mentality that I think he should have.


May 13th, 2013 at 7:31 PM ^

Very strange that he gets all the top-100-sounding praise and everyone almost unanimously puts him around the #23 safety in the country. Obviously he's missing some kind of Wow Factor but heck if I know what it is. I'm confident that Mattison and Co. can make him great though


May 13th, 2013 at 7:35 PM ^

The thing is, scouting reports like to focus a lot on the objective measures.  What a scouting report has a hard time doing is relaying how he looks on a football field.  There are a lot of guys who have all the skills, but don't put it together between the lines as well as you'd like them to.  

I'm not necessarily saying that Hill is that guy, and I don't think the sites are either because they still gave him 4 stars.  But it's possible on paper Hill looks great, and on the field he looks "good to very good."


May 13th, 2013 at 8:29 PM ^

I just watched his junior film and I think you hit the nail on the head, it doesn't have a "wow factor."  He looks good, which is why he's a 4* player, and he get's the job done.   However, he doesn't tackle with a lot of force and make big hits.  On many plays he wrestles the ball carrier down.  He also appears to be a pretty smooth athlete and pretty efficient in his steps, so it tends to make him look less dynamic.

All that said, I'm really happy with his commitment.  With his size and speed, along with some Mallory/Mattison coaching, I expect him to be a good player down the road.  I think a bunch of coaching staffs missed the boat by not offering him a scholarship....although it wouldn't have mattered after the UM offer.



May 13th, 2013 at 7:44 PM ^

wanted to be described as a poor man's Marlin Jackson? A certain callousness--totally unanalyzed, and internalized by even the most thoughtful writers--informs the analysis of recruits and players in sports in this country. Wish we could bring it back down a notch, keep the fact that these are kids and that they are playing for our school and that we appreciate them always at the forefront. 


May 13th, 2013 at 7:48 PM ^

Eh, no thanks.  I want to know how good he is, from MGoBlog's point of view.  If Brian thinks he's a poor man's Marlin Jackson (which isn't a huge knock, by the way) then I want him to say that.  He's 18, not 13.  

If Delano Hill is good enough to see the field for Michigan, I hope he can take more criticism than that because he'll be on national TV and analyzed by national media all the time.  If he's never good enough to see the field, then I'd say Brian went easy on him.  


May 13th, 2013 at 8:24 PM ^

And didn't the recruiting sites basically already do that anyway?  They all agreed he was the 23rd-ish best safety in the country and 300th-ish best player in the country.  That's obviously well below Marlin Jackson-level, and they said that about him when he was 16 or 17.  Brian making a player comparison that essentially jives with his recruiting rankings isn't exactly mean.  


May 14th, 2013 at 7:47 AM ^

Marlin Jackson was a 2 time All-American, Michigan captain, and easily the 2nd best secondary player of the Carr era. He also had a productive 10 year NFL career, and retired with a Super Bowl ring to go with his 2 Big 10 Championship rings.  Referring to Delano Hill as a "Poor Man's Marlin Jackson" is not an insult.  If anything, it heaps a lot of expectations and pressure on the kid.


May 13th, 2013 at 10:24 PM ^

My take on the lower rankings is that he has excellent size and speed but that he will need good coaching and some time to be ready to see the field.  My suspicion is the higher rated safeties are more likely to play sooner.

I don't expect Hill to do much of anything on defense this year, but I'm very high on Hill's potential down the line.  I don't see how we won't end up with two very good safeties in a couple years since we only need two out of Hill, Thomas, Dawson, Wilson and Clark to pan out.