2013 Recruiting: Khalid Hill Comment Count

Brian July 19th, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt.

   
Detroit, MI – 6'2", 235
     

dm_120508_Khalid_Hill_Interview[1]

Scout 3*, NR overall
#18 TE
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#32 TE, #21 MI
ESPN 3*, NR overall
#8 H-back, #9 MI
24/7 3*, NR overall 
#31 TE, #14 MI
Other Suitors CMU
YMRMFSPA Phillip Lutzenkirchen
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace. Ace scouts East Village.
Notes Transferred from Crockett to East Village Prep, FWIW.

Film

Junior highlights:

Recommend the John Woo-approved touchdown at 20 seconds. Also, Scout's Josh Newkirk put together a reel of his performances at one 7-on-7 tourney that's impressive both for its length and some of the catches Hill brings in:

We're in the thick of this year's crop of hybridized, NFL-style versatile offensive players. You know, the guys that will let Michigan crank you from a big formation on one play and flip to a four-wide the next with limited personnel switching. Khalid Hill will live in the heavier end of Michigan's formations, moving to and fro across the line of scrimmage, blocking and heading out into pass patterns. SB Nation has an excellent primer on Hill's job description I recommend you take in all of, but the short version from the man who kind of invented the spot himself:

This takes you back to [former Redskins Coach Joe] Gibbs' description of the modern H-back: "An H-back has to have good hands and be super smart."

Bonus items include bone-shattering blocking (taken for granted at the NFL level, I imagine) and the ability to get vertical from time to time; Hill hits on at least a few of these categories. According his coach, he has them all

"He's a great pass catcher. He has the blocking ability of a lineman, the athletic ability of a skill guy, and the hands of a wide receiver, so he's a match-up nightmare. What he brought to the table for us this year was, he created mismatches down seams of the field."

…but coaches tend to get excited about their kids. To the scouts!

The one he's definitely got: hands. Virtually every report I've collected praises them first off. 247's Clint Brewster:

The first thing that really jumps off the tape about Hill is his catching radius. He can scoop a pass up off of his shoelaces or go up and make a tough catch well over his head. Hill also has good arm extension when making a catch, not allowing the ball to get close to his body. Hill is quarterback friendly and really makes an inaccurate pass look easy to catch with his natural adjustments. After the catch Hill shows an excellent burst of speed and can really make a bigger defender miss a tackle or plow over a smaller one. Hill does a great job of getting vertical on seam routes when lined up in the slot or attached at the line of scrimmage. Hill runs precise routes, really getting good separation from his opponent with sharp cuts and head nods.

ESPN:

Regardless of how he lines up he can help move the chains as a receiver. He has good hands and demonstrates that he can consistently extend for the ball. … good quickness and is active with his hands in working to clear past defenders who may try and hinder his release. He is a solid route runner best suited as a short-to-intermediate target. He has solid speed, but comes across as a kid who is a little quicker than fast and doesn't look to possess the ideal long speed to be a vertical threat. After the catch he will quickly get turned up-field and fight for what he can get.

You'll note an almost total lack of blocking notes in both evaluations above, and that's for a reason: ESPN says that's an area that "could use some real development."

But back to the receiving. Ace took in East Village Prep's opener, in which Hill went for a 65-yard TD, and reported back:

Hill's first catch of the season was a slant route that he took 65 yards for a touchdown; the throw was slightly behind him, but he reached back and plucked the ball out of the air without breaking stride, then turned on the burners and outran the entire Oak Park secondary. It was a very impressive effort that showed off Hill's potential as a receiver.

Hill looked very comfortable working over the middle, whether he lined up at tight end, H-back, slot, or wide receiver; he's at his best finding open space in the heart of the defense. His hands look good as well, as he caught everything thrown his way, making sure to catch with his hands instead of his body. When running routes, Hill showed why he earned a Michigan offer.

That is a piece of skill Michigan fans have recently seen out of Drew Dileo in a guy 50 pounds heavier and a half-foot taller: a rare quality. But back to the blocking issues.

However, Hill ran into problems when asked to run block. He had a difficult time staying engaged with defenders and knocking them off the ball; on several occasions, he never found someone to block at all.

Is it good news that Hill was such a valuable receiver as a high school player that his blocking can lack so badly? Well… maybe. In hybrid land a lot of these guys get picked for the one skill they have because coaches think they can fix the other bit. As we learned with Funchess last year, though, a mismatch guy is only a mismatch if he can block.

Once Hill can do that, though, he has potential to "surprise" defenses. Another recurring theme in the evaluations is continued references to his surprising—always surprising—athleticism. Scout's eval:

Scout.com Player Evaluation:

STRENGTHS

Body Control

Hands and Concentration

Route-Running Skills

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Size

Stocky kid with surprising quickness and athleticism for his build. Very light on his feet, has great route running skills and ability to catch the ball as a tight end or H-Back. Soft, reliable hands and good run after the catch schools. Will have to learn to block potentially from the backfield as he may see time there in college. Not your traditional tight end at 6'2, but has the skills to be a matchup problem. - Allen Trieu

The ever-popular "size" area for improvement and more references to his developing blocking skills feature.

Tim Sullivan caught him at a 7-on-7 event:

He looks like a defensive lineman … but has quickness and speed that are bound to surprise those who think he's just a big man playing tight end, rather than a true athlete. He isn't going to run by many safeties, but makes quick, sharp cuts to get open in the middle of the field, or toward the sidelines as an outlet on some plays. He has the frame and leaping ability to make high catches over the middle - and the fearlessness to jump and make plays with his body exposed.

Ace again:

Hill presented a serious matchup problem for defensive backs unaccustomed to handling a player with his combination of size and athleticism. Hill runs crisp routes and has soft hands, so while he doesn't wow you with his frame or speed, he finds a way to get open and has developed a great rapport with his future college quarterback.

You get the idea. Let's continue attacking the horse, though:

  • Steve Wiltfong: "The sure-handed Hill knows how to get open, and was the go-to guy for Morris throughout the weekend."
  • Brewster at SMSB: "Hill does a great job getting in and out of his breaks. He did a nice job of getting separation from his defenders and snatching the football with his arms extended to not let it get anywhere close to his body."
  • Sullivan at the Columbus NFTC: "Hill impressed again on Saturday, with more athleticism than he's given credit for at times, precise routes, and as always, very good hands. "
  • Ace at SMSB: "Hill looked very good in the reps I saw him taking, running crisp routes and catching almost everything thrown his way. He nearly pulled in a ridiculous one-hander early in the morning session, but couldn't quite haul it on; otherwise, any pass in his direction resulted in a catch. Hill isn't the fastest tight end out there, nor the biggest, but he finds a way to get space from defenders and then shield them off with his body."
  • I declare this horse deader.

Hill camped as a junior, which got him on Michigan's radar. He won the positional MVP there, no doubt a help as Michigan evaluated him for their early offer. It didn't hurt that Hill and Shane Morris rolled around the 7-on-7 circuit on the same team, as Ace mentions obliquely above. Morris developed faith in Hill to the point that you can get a 3 and a half minute highlight reel out of one 7-on-7, as you see above, while other guys on the Max Ex team (like C'sonte York) can only squeeze out a minute and a half by adding some practice reps in.

As a senior, Hill may have added some blocking skill after a shoulder injury forced an interesting, temporary position move:

“Two weeks ago the A-C joint in my shoulder got sprained in a game and I couldn’t do anything but block, that’s the only thing that didn’t hurt,” Hill began. “So I told my coach to put someone else at tight end and I’ll play offensive tackle. Same thing happened last year when I hurt my knee- I moved to tackle. I just want to be on the field to help my team in any way possible. It’s all about the team.”

(File under The Pattern as well.)

Sullivan caught one of his later games and focused on his blocking, which was much-improved in his eyes:

[Hill] was far more aggressive and willing to punish defenders in this game, and played a big role in opening up holes. He also used his hands to prevent the defender from disengaging, which allowed him to seal the edge.
Hill still shows a tendency to get off balance at times in his blocking, especially on the edge. While it's unlikely to harm the team in any significant way, that can limit big runs if they break into the secondary. On a similar note, he was beaten in space a couple times, but given his athleticism, that should be an easy fix to make.

He still had issues making second-level blocks after coming off combos, FWIW, something Ace noticed when he scouted East Village as well.

So… Hill has some developing to do as a blocker, especially because most of his activity is going to be of the lead variety from now on, something he hasn't done much of yet. That'll delay his bid for playing time; once he gets that down he has the potential to be a guy linebackers swear to themselves about when they try to take a block and he flits by. Hill has the potential to be a premium piece of the offense when space gets constricted.

Etc.: Junior stats: 29 catches for 448 yards, six TDs. Lingo ahoy!

"I feel great," he said. "There's a smile on my face. I'm cheesin'."

That's immediately post-commit.

Why Phillip Lutzenkirchen? Auburn's red-zone touchdown machine is the best I've got on the college level. Lutzenkirchen spent his days on the Plains blocking on short yardage and slipping out into uncovered pattern after uncovered pattern. His catching ability was superb for a guy his size and he brought enough wood as a blocker to convince AU opponents to sell out against the run, much to their detriment.

Lutzenkirchen is in the same height range but did top out at nearly 260 pounds; Hill may end up ten pounds short of that.

Guru Reliability: High. Lots of camps, and while there's a little divide in the rankings (Scout has him just a few players away from a fourth star; Rivals ranks him below an in-state tight end headed to Air Force) everyone says he's the same player.

Variance: Moderate. Will be a blocking back and guy who catches some short stuff, occasionally getting into a wheel route; blocking must develop.

Ceiling: Low-plus. While Hill can be a useful cog, that seems to be the limit. Does bring some potential as a consistent mismatch if he can learn to block, though.

General Excitement Level: Low-plus. Is kind of a fullback, and how many kind-of-fullbacks are going to be on this roster? On the other hand, seems like a red-zone efficiency piece, and who doesn't like red-zone efficiency?

Projection: Probable redshirt since most of the evals mention he has a long way to go as a blocker. He does fit the profile of a guy who will get time on special teams sooner rather than later, though, so nonzero chance he ends up covering kicks. A serious role in the offense will have to wait.

How long is a mystery. He's got Sione Houma and Joe Kerridge in front of him in terms of seniority, and Kerridge got a lot of playing time in which he showed some promise as a Kevin Dudley-style linebacker eraser… as a redshirt freshman. It'll be a battle for Hill to pass him full-time.

Situationally… yeah, there's room, especially after Gardner graduates and Shane Morris presumably ascends to the throne. A couple years down the road Hill will presumably be accustomed to blocking out of the backfield and his 7-on-7 running buddy will be looking for him in practice whenever they're on the field together.

Comments

Mr. Yost

July 19th, 2013 at 11:21 AM ^

Highlight of his career may have been recovering the onside kick vs. MSU...but he was a pretty damn solid piece to the puzzle during his years at Michigan.

To me, Hill isn't ever going to be a true starting TE or FB. But when he comes in the game, that play action pass to the FB is going to be a staple.

What's that Y-banana crap Gruden was yelling at Andrew Luck about? Y-banana has Khalid Hill written ALL over it.

 

olivia222

July 22nd, 2013 at 6:12 PM ^

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IBleedMaizeNBlue

July 20th, 2013 at 2:15 PM ^

I imagine Khalid Hill as having a sort of a Dallas Clark-esque role in this offense. Same size (tho Khalid is about 20 lbs lighter at this point), but his pass-catching ability and versatility lends to some pretty creative wrinkles in the passing game. Borges must be thrilled with all the toys he's getting.

umalum16

July 19th, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

Please read this with the same skepticism that I did, but Sam Webb recently claimed that Hill was one of the incoming freshmen that prompted mention from the coaches for being unexpectedly huge and athletic when he reported. I can't find the post claiming this, but I'm pretty sure he tested/measured as follows:

6'2

260 lbs (!!!???)

4.6-4.7 40 range (!!!???)

If these are actually true, the ceiling/excitement level may be altered slightly. However, I'll believe it when I see it.

(btw, other guys mentioned as athletic freaks - Gedeon and Reon Dawson)

umalum16

July 19th, 2013 at 1:38 PM ^

Dawson apparently ran his 40 in the 4.4 range when he reported, which is damn impressive for a 6'2 corner.

He also reported times of 4.39 at two consecutive camps after his junior year, but there's little evidence those were laser-timed etc.,so take them with a grain of salt.

Anyway, who knows if he'll ever play a meaningful down (because he's way behind technique-wise), but there's little doubting he has the athleticism to be something special if he can bring it all together.

Commie_High96

July 19th, 2013 at 12:19 PM ^

Alabama had a player the same size and speed as Hill a few years ago, he had the unfortunate name Brad Smellie, but he was a weapon at the flex and a real problem for defenders. That is what I kinda hope Hill turns into. Also, any reason he couldn't be a linebacker?

TenThousandThings

July 19th, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

 Nonetheless a good comparison for Hill's likely role and ceiling -- 7th-round draft pick. Smelley didn't start a lot at 'Bama (mostly just his senior year), but played consistently throughout his time there:

http://www.rolltide.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/smelley_brad00.html

If Hill can match or exceed that, he'll be a key piece. Smelley was on the field because he was an effective run blocker, and the same will be asked of Hill, but he did more than that, especially on third down. The 21 of 27 catches for first downs his senior year is interesting. Morris finding Hill to keep the drive alive could become a thing.

Ron Utah

July 20th, 2013 at 1:19 AM ^

Brad Smelley was a pro-style QB in high school who converted to TE at 'Bama.  Just because the height/weight is similar, doesn't mean the comparison is.

Hill is a much more polished receiver, and obviously has some learning to do on the blocking side.  You've got to be awfully good as an H-Back to get drafted, but Hill fits the profile and could sneak in.

I think Hill's role will be much different than Smelley's was, but I can see him having similar numbers.

GoBlueInNYC

July 19th, 2013 at 12:22 PM ^

Maybe I missed some logic somewhere, but why is he expected to be a FB type player?

I read his profile as "great hands, good athleticism, bad at blocking...so we'll slot him into a position where he'll block all the time and rarely catch the ball." Is it a body-size issue (i.e., too thick to be a WR, too short to be a traditional TE)?

go16blue

July 19th, 2013 at 12:56 PM ^

His position is technically TE, but more specifically, he's going to be the smaller TE in motion on big sets. His role is that of a FB-type-player because on running plays he's going to be in motion as a lead blocker/kickout guy, and on pass plays he's going to be leaking out of the backfield a lot. He'll line up initially as a TE, but because of pre-snap motion he'll end up with a FB's role most plays.

GoBlueInNYC

July 19th, 2013 at 1:00 PM ^

I get that. But you're still taking a player whose obvious strength is pass catching and obvious weakness is blocking and putting him in a position where he'll be a lead blocker, with the occasional route out of the backfield. Which sounds an awful lot like functionally a FB, even if "his position is technically TE."

Why have him play that position, given the position's requirements and his combination of skills and weaknesses?

Mr. Yost

July 19th, 2013 at 3:36 PM ^

The OP is about him being an H-Back and all recruiting services have him as a TE. No one is putting him as your traditional FB. People are saying that he could line up at that position since you don't have a pass catching FB. Or he'd be a TE in the backfield. This isn't uncommon...Koger lined up in the backfield plenty of times in his years under Hoke.

GoBlueInNYC

July 19th, 2013 at 3:58 PM ^

I never said they'd make him a fullback. I said "FB type" position. Which was further reiterated when go16blue, describing Hill's hypothetical deployment as an H-back, said that "he'll end up with a FB's role most plays."

My question was never about position names, it was about why you would deploy Hill in that type of role in the first place, given his strengths and weaknesses. The run down of his abilities basically read "great hands with good athleticism and inability to block; he'll be used as a 'blocking back and guy who catches some short stuff' (to quote Brian's post)."

I was asking how you go from Point A (great pass catcher with very poor blocking ability) to Point B ("Is kind of a full back" to again quote Brian's post) given everything that had been written up about his abilities.

eschaton811ydau

July 19th, 2013 at 12:39 PM ^

"General Excitement Level: Low-plus."

I'm gonna disagree strongly with you there, probably because I use a broader definition of excitement. He's not likely to end up as the most valuable player of his recruiting class, but I'm really interested to see how Borges uses him.

As a reader of this site, its easy to find analysis of spread offenses, and I got to see it first-hand while watching the team during the past 5 seasons. There's also plenty of discussion on "Pro-style" and "West Coast" offenses out there, but those articles are generally filled with jargon and inaccessible to me since I only obsessively watch one team (that hasn't had the personnel to run that system). Now that we have the personnel, I look forward to learning about a new system, especially the concepts that are more nuanced than "Our guys are bigger and faster than yours". Hill, Shallman, and the flex TE's represent those concepts.

Elmer

July 19th, 2013 at 12:44 PM ^

I really think Hill is going to be better than "low-plus."  Too much emphasis is often put on combine type numbers and measurables.  This kid can get open and will catch anything close.  Shane targeted him so much during 7 on 7 games, because Hill's a gamer.  If he's already at 260 and running under 4.7, look out folks.

Mich1993

July 19th, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

I guess I agree with the assessment of low plus relative to some of the other guys since, he won't look like Devin Funchess outrunning linebackers 30 yards downfield, but I think he will be a fan favorite by the time he graduates.  I see him as a guy that will want to be a blocking tight end as well (as well as receiving) and will have lots of Roy Roundtree-like catches where he is wide open because they though he was a blocker.  I also think he will have a lot of 3rd down catches for a 1st down where a linebacker or safety just couldn't cover him. 

 

Ron Utah

July 19th, 2013 at 1:21 PM ^

I think Hill make a name for himself before his career is over.  He'll be a solid player the whole way, but will do some big things in big moments for us.  

He's pretty short to play TE full-time, but he obviously has a skill-set that will benefit the team, and I believe he'll get opportunities to use it.  Houma is probably the odd man out here, as Kerridge, Shallman, and Hill make for an intimidating roster of H/FBs.

jblaze

July 19th, 2013 at 2:06 PM ^

get malligned for their poor grammer (it's improved, btw), but the guys at GBMWolverine seemto love Hill and he's one of their freshmen sleepers, FWIW.

WolvinLA2

July 19th, 2013 at 3:04 PM ^

People won't like this comparison for obvious reasons, but he reminds me of a less murdery Aaron Hernandez. AH was a short and stocky yet very athletic TE who lined up all over the place and was a great pass catching TE despite his height. I could see Hill being a very similar player.

Mr. Yost

July 19th, 2013 at 3:39 PM ^

I like the comparison in terms of position and role...but as a player, Hernandez is a better athlete IMO. Hell, the Patriots have lined him up and given him the ball at RB in the NFL. I'm not sure if Hill is as fast as AH. That said, in terms of the position Hernandez played at UF and some with the position...I completely agree. Same with the role...he's not Gronk, just like Hill isn't like Funchess and Butt.

gwkrlghl

July 19th, 2013 at 3:04 PM ^

Recruiting services and fans don't get terribly excited about him, but someone really good at that position could be very valuable. I'm not sure any of us realized how awesome a great center was until David Molk happened. Similarly, I wonder if none of us really get how awesome a pass-catching H-back can be (this assuming that Khalid learns to block well)

Don

July 20th, 2013 at 11:27 AM ^

"Will be a blocking back...blocking must develop... Does bring some potential as a consistent mismatch if he can learn to block, though."

That doesn't make any more sense than this would:

"Will be a receiver... receiving must develop... Does bring some potential as a consistent mismatch if he can learn how to catch the ball, though."

Unless the assessments of his ability to catch the ball are wildly overstated, I doubt Hill is ever going to be a "blocking back," at least insofar as we're familiar with the term.

Michigan Arrogance

July 20th, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

I assume he'll be in the Aaron Shea mode offensively. Of course, he's gonna have to be an outstanding blocker to see the field in that capacity- even tho Shea was the most productive FB/hybrid TE M has ever had from a numbers perspective.... most of his work was as a blocker. Rember that huge  play he had where he block 3 guys on ONE play?