Last night, Michigan added the son of a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, a five-star defensive lineman, and a potential five-star offensive tackle. They're all the same guy.
Five-star Norcross (GA) Greater Atlanta Christian SDE/OT Chris Hinton Jr., son of former Northwestern and NFL star OT Chris Hinton, made his Michigan commitment public on Twitter last night. While Hinton had a long list of top programs after him—including Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Stanford—he went with the first program to offer him, and in fact had been privately committed to the school before making his announcement last night, per 247's Steve Lorenz:
First things first: we were aware that Hinton planned on committing to the Wolverines, but we expected it near the end of August or the beginning of September. Hinton told defensive line coach Greg Mattison back in July that his eventual plans were to commit to the Wolverines before his senior season officially started.
Michigan has led heavily for Hinton for months. He was one of the prospects in the 2019 class that we felt best about since at least April, when both he and his younger brother were on campus for an unofficial visit. Chris Hinton Sr., who played with Jim Harbaugh in Indianapolis in the NFL. I've added a 247Sports Crystal Ball for Myles Hinton to Michigan; a prospect who will likely be a 2020 five-star when our initial rankings are released.
As noted above, younger brother Myles Hinton, who's accompanied Chris to campus before, is also a top-tier prospect; he's a great bet to start Michigan's 2020 class with a bang.
Chris Hinton is the fourth commit in the 2019 class and the third to drop since last weekend's BBQ at the Big House. He joins five-star KY WDE Stephen Herron, four-star OH OG Nolan Rumler, and four-star IMG ILB Charles Thomas in the class. Hinton is also the seventh Georgia commit since the 2017 class; as TomVH points out, prior to Jim Harbaugh's arrival, Michigan had signed only two Peach State products since 2006.
5*, #1 SDE,
5*, #1 SDE,
4*, 96, #2 SDE,
5*, #1 SDE,
ESPN hasn't released 2019 rankings, so don't be concerned about the weird unranked outlier there. Hinton is universally considered one of the best prospects in the class, with only 247 keeping him out of the top three overall.
Hinton is listed at 6'4", 265 by Scout and 247, 6'5", 265 by Rivals, and 6'4", 274 by ESPN—I'm inclined to go with ESPN's figure since they also have verified testing results for him. The exact figure isn't too important right now; Hinton already boasts excellent size, has the frame to add quite a bit more, and could still be growing. That makes his future position a question of great intrigue; while he seems set on playing defense, multiple scouts believe his potential is highest at offensive tackle.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
Michigan had already offered Hinton by the time the recruiting services started taking notice of his prodigious talent. Chad Simmons will be the recruiting analyst most cited in this section, as he's closely followed Hinton—scouting reports on Hinton followed Simmons from Scout to Rivals. His initial look came last summer at the Atlanta Sound Mind Sound Body camp:
Give Michigan credit for offering Christopher Hinton Jr. very early in 2016. The Wolverines are still the only school to offer the 2019 defensive lineman, but there will be plenty more. Both of his parents played sports at Northwestern, and his father, Chris, played in the NFL, so the younger Hinton has good bloodlines. Hinton worked on the defensive line, and he loves defense, but his best position longterm could be offensive tackle. We will talk that on another day. Hinton was one of the top three defensive line performers on this day.
247's Steve Wiltfong was even more impressed by Hinton at the same event, naming him the #3 performer among all defenders:
There certainly wasn’t a better defensive lineman at the camp than Great Atlanta Christian 2019 defensive tackle Chris Hinton, a strong and twitchy player that went pretty much unblocked all afternoon. Rutgers offered him following the camp, joining Michigan who extended the first scholarship back in January. Hinton is put together well at 6-foot-4, 265-pounds and his burst off the ball was really impressive. Had the look of a national recruit.
By the playoffs of Hinton's sophomore season, Simmons was openly wondering why he didn't have 20+ offers instead of the six he held at the time, and focused mostly on Hinton's play at offensive tackle in his evaluation:
He is a 6-foot-5, 270 pound sophomore who plays both sides of the ball. He could play either way on the next level, but I like him most at offensive tackle. When I saw him play against Atlanta (Ga.) Pace Academy, he showed the ability to drive defensive linemen off the ball, to anchor in pass protection, to play with leverage on both sides of the ball and the make plays on the defensive line in the opposing backfield. He has great bend for a big man, he does a good job shooting his hands, and he has a wide base that is tough to push backwards. Sure, he could be a strongside end or a potential three-technique, and probably a good one, but he has the makings of a top offensive tackle prospect in 2019. He was extremely impressive in this game.
Simmons had moved over to Rivals when they released their initial 2019 rankings, which put Hinton as one of the first five-star prospects in the class. After last night's commitment, Simmons focused more on the defensive side of the ball while giving a scouting report to The Wolverine's Brandon Brown:
"It’s more than the genes, though," Simmons said. "The kid is self motivated, self driven, extremely mature, high on academics — all that stuff carries over to his football play. Yes, he’s a big kid, pretty athletic for his size, but I just think his intelligence and his maturity and the way he carries himself on and off the field makes him, in my eyes, a true five-star kid.
"As a player, he definitely uses that size to his advantage. He gets the little things that can help him and has an edge with a father who is a former NFL guy. They break down film and stuff like that so he really understands the game and the position. When you break him down he’s big on the edge. I like him as 5-technique, strongside dfesneive end. He has good size at 6-5, 265 and moves pretty well. He’s not just a guy who holds his ground and plays the run. He can get some penetration and get up the field. I’ve seen him live several times and each time I’ve seen him play he’s recorded at least one sack in that game. He knows how to get up the field and pressure the quarterback. He’s really agile at his size and I think he’s a pretty balance defensive end. He’s not that flashy, speedy, hybrid edge rusher we’re seeing a lot more in today’s game, but he’s very smart and physical and is a complete defensive lineman."
After watching Hinton's sophomore film, which only included defensive plays, I like him as either a strongside end or three-tech DT; he's an excellent run defender who's used to dealing with double teams on the interior. He needs to work on his first step and explosion off the line; other than adding some variety to his pass-rush moves, there's not a whole lot else to ask for from a SDE/DT prospect, especially one who has two seasons of high school ball left. Hinton's positional versatility and strong academic background make it that much more likely he'll pan out, too.
Hinton eventually added quite a few schools to that offer sheet, including Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, Tennessee, USC, Duke, Maryland, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Mississippi State, UNC, Northwestern, Ole Miss, Rutgers, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech.
Greater Atlanta Christian is one of the power programs in Georgia's class AAA, the fifth-largest classification, making it to the state championship game last season. They've produced a healthy number of Power 5 signees, including five-star 2017 Stanford QB Davis Mills.
According to MaxPreps, Hinton recorded 70 tackles (46 solo) in 15 games as a sophomore.
FAKE 40 TIME
Hinton posted a SPARQ-verified 5.28 40 time, which gets zero FAKEs out of five. He also recorded a 4.81 shuttle, 25.8-inch vertical, and 33-foot powerball throw for a SPARQ score of 64.44.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
It's difficult to project Hinton this far out given the lack of offensive film and the fact he has two years of development remaining before he hits campus. On defense, he looks like an impact run defender who could become a Wormley-like strongside end or slide to the interior. His size/athleticism combination make him a tantalizing offensive tackle prospect, too, especially if he grows another inch or two. Wherever he winds up, he should be very good.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It has two five-star defensive ends in it.
The upshot is more for the 2020 class, as Chris's commitment gives Michigan the inside track at younger brother Myles, a potential five-star OT who already holds offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, and USC, among several others.