Cass Tech S Delano Hill joined his teammate David Dawson in pledging to Michigan today, giving the Wolverines 24 commits in the class of 2013. Hill, previously committed to Iowa, is the fifth Wolverine commit slated to play in the defensive backfield, joining (Cass Tech teammate) Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling, Ross Douglas, and Dymonte Thomas.
4*, #24 S,
|4*, #23 S||3*, 79, #23 S||4*, 90, #22 S|
Though ESPN has HIll at three stars as opposed to four, there's a remarkable consensus as to Hill's standing among 2013 safeties, as he's ranked between #22 and #24 at the position on all four sites. He's listed at either 6'0" or 6'1" and between 185 and 200 pounds; having seen him several times in person, I tend to believe the latter figures—Hill is pretty filled out for a high school safety.
Scout lists Hill's strengths as Instincts, Jamming Ability, and Tackling Ability, with Hip Flexibility as an area for improvement; Allen Trieu provides their free scouting report:
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. Continuing to improve his footwork and quickness will allow him to cover faster slot receivers in the future. Good overall ball skills and athleticism to go with his size. - Allen Trieu
ESPN's evaluation is especially positive about his run support ($):
This guy is a tough customer who demonstrates the open field tackling skills which not only limits yards after contact but should prove beneficial as a special teams coverage defender. We see the flexibility, agility and balance needed to play in space; does a good job coming out of his pedal and flipping the hips when covering inside receivers. This prospect plays smart showing good instincts along with the ability to get to the football and make big plays. Has very good route awareness when in zone coverage ... Demonstrates the ability to play man coverage; displays good foot transition with the ability to turn and run with receivers; gets his head around to locate the ball while flashing a makeup burst. We like his ball skills; shows he can leap and play the ball at the high point. His run support is outstanding; will come up and force off the edge while demonstrating quickness filling the ally; is a very aggressive downhill run defender with the ability to move through traffic; displays very good long pursuit ability.
Though Hill is primarily lauded for his play against the run, he impressed with his coverage ability on the summer camp circuit. Here's Josh Helmholdt on Hill after the Columbus NFTC in May ($):
The defensive back MVP, Hill 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.
From Sam Webb, we get Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher's opinion on Hill, as well as some insight into where he could end up playing ($):
“They want to play him at safety or at corner,” Wilcher explained. “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.”
While I did watch Cass Tech in person three times this fall, I wasn't particularly focused on Hill—since he was an Iowa commit and there were several Michigan commits and targets on the field, my focus was usually elsewhere. That said, a few things about him stood out to me from seeing him play, especially his closing speed and tackling ability—Hill is the rare prospect that's both aggressive and controlled, able to close the gap quickly and still form up for a proper tackle. His coverage skills weren't often put to the test in games I watched, but Cass Tech rarely got beat over the top with him manning the middle.
Hill's early commitment to Iowa likely limited the number of offers he received; his offer list includes Illinois, Pitt, and Syracuse in addition to the Wolverines and Hawkeyes.
According to 247, Hill recorded 60 tackles and two interceptions as a senior, including a pick-six in the state title game.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 40 time of 4.44 seconds, which I'll give three FAKEs out of five; Hill is fast, but that's elite speed.
Game film from Cass Tech's matchups against Birmingham Brother Rice and Saline, courtesy of Maize & Blue News:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Hill could wind up at corner or safety depending on the team's needs—if Jourdan Lewis winds up on offense, Hill could very well play corner. In my opinion, however, Hill's best position is safety, where he can really utilize that ability in run support while still making plays in coverage.
Where Hill could make an immediate impact is on special teams, where his speed and tackling ability translate nicely. Down the road, he should find a role somewhere in the secondary, whether it be at free safety or cornerback.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
C&P'd from the Dawson post:
Michigan initially planned on taking five offensive linemen in the class and 24 players overall, but Sam Webb has hinted recently that Michigan could take up to 28 or even 29 players (backdating early enrollees to last year's class) and adding an additional lineman. The Wolverines are still pursuing CO OL Dan Skipper (Tennessee commit) and CA OL Cameron Hunt (Cal commit); Skipper is on campus this weekend and Hunt should visit in January.
Other major targets include VA RB Derrick Green, FL S Leon McQuay III, OH CB Reon Dawson, and newly-offered OH ATH Marcus Ball (Wisconsin commit being recruited as a linebacker).
Hill's commitment shouldn't preclude Michigan from continuing to pursue McQuay and Dawson. No matter what, the Wolverines will likely take a running back—they're in great position with Green and I still like Northwestern commit Godwin Igwebuike as a backup plan—as well as one more defensive back and probably a linebacker, given the recent spate of offers.