Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 Season Countdown: #31 Delano Hill

Delano Hill (image via
Name: Delano Hill
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 205 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position: Safety
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #44
Last year: I ranked Hill #72 and said he would see some special teams action. He played on special teams in every game and saw action in one game on defense, making 1 total tackle.

Hill came into college as somewhat of a physical freak, with his high school coaches talking about his speed and hitting ability. What he lacked was technical refinement. Last year he was deemed worthy of running downfield on coverage teams, but he made just 1 tackle. Starting free safety Thomas Gordon graduated, backup Josh Furman transferred, and cornerback/safety Courtney Avery graduated, too. By the time spring rolled around, the door had opened for Hill to run with the first unit alongside junior Jarrod Wilson at safety.

This fall will be very interesting in the defensive backfield, where Michigan has a glut of capable cornerbacks and a bunch of unproven safeties. Wilson has one spot all but locked down, but the strong safety position comes down to Hill, redshirt sophomore Jeremy Clark, sophomore Dymonte Thomas, and perhaps freshman Jabrill Peppers. While the coaches have rotated defensive linemen, linebackers, and even cornerbacks rather freely, the safeties have generally been every-down players. Scuttlebutt out of Schembechler Hall this spring suggested that Hill was the most trusted safety by the coaches. Personally, I have doubts that his discipline has been shored up in just one year of college, but regardless of which safety wins the job, he's going to be young and/or inexperienced. This looks like a job that might be in flux throughout the year, but with Hill as the potential starter, he's potentially valuable.

Prediction: 30 tackles, 1 interception


  1. Magnus,
    Given the depth at CB and inexperience at safety, what are your thoughts about moving Peppers to safety? Assuming he's a legit playmaker, from which position do you think he could have the greatest impact?

    1. Apparently at that Detroit skills camp from a couple weeks ago, Peppers was introducing himself as a safety. I think he gets a shot there. UM could conceivably be in the situation where they have four CB's who are higher quality players than any of the safeties.

  2. I freely confess to being less-than-expert on football X's and O's. And the further back in the defense, the less I think I understand the nuances of the position. That said, I am crossing my fingers and hoping the coaches figure out the safety position in time for the Notre Dame game.

    This really is a critical year. The talent is there. It's now just a matter of helping the talent play up.

    Can't wait for fall camp; can't wait for the first game.

  3. The defensive backfield might be the most fascinating group this season. Between all the talented corners fighting for playing time and the safety position being loaded with physically gifted but technically raw players (Clark, Thomas, Hill, plus Peppers who seems more technically advanced but might be pegged more as a corner), the backfield has plenty of question marks about how it'll end up looking, but it lacks all the panic surrounding a position group like offensive line.

    After a kind of mediocre year on the defensive side last season, I'm getting really excited to watch this year's D take the field. Personally, I'm excited to see if Clark ends up on the field - I've been wanted to see him play since his original grey-shirt offer went out. His combo of height, speed, and his tendency to return everything for TDs while he was in HS had me excited from the get-go.

    1. This is a good assessment. The second safety might be young and inexperienced, but whomever it is will have to have wrestled the job away from the others and work extra hard to hold on.

      I'm not too worried about Hill not making a bunch of special teams tackles; he was typically in the immediate vicinity of the tackle and it's not easy beating Jehu Chesson and Dennis Norfleet down the field. Chesson in particular seems to derive pleasure from turning blockers and return men into goo.

    2. I've had the same "it'll sort itself out fine because we have a lot of talented options" mentality before. Usually it works out that way, but not always. In this case, I'm reasonably confident because the overall depth and talent at DB is really strong.

  4. I've liked everything I've heard about Hill since he committed. It didn't shock me to read that he was ahead of more heralded (Thomas) and older (Clark) players. That said, I don't know if he's ready for fulltime duty. I still think somebody listed at cornerback will end up starting at safety; Peppers and Taylor are my best guesses. If you want to put the best people out there, I think you have to find a way for Lewis and Stribling to play a lot, so somebody could move.

    Due to the uncertainty, I'd put Hill a bit lower than this, but if he is the starter all year he'd shoot into the top 15.

  5. Here is my countdown #31-40

    31. D.Smith – would be a lot higher if Green wasn’t around
    32. Ojemudia
    33. Hagerup
    34. Stribling – star potential
    35. Cole – red-shirts or starts
    36. Norfleet – options at KR reduce his value, but still a screen/bubble threat and lead PR
    37. Morris
    38. Hurst
    39. Williams – not sold he’ll get passed for lead blocking TE
    40. D.Hill

    Thunder ranks the following guys higher (I assume): Morris, D.Smith, Norfleet. I just see viable alternatives to each of those guys for 2014. Backup QBs are pretty important, I'm just not sold on Morris being appreciably better THIS YEAR than the other options. I hope for, but don't expect, a red-shirt.

    I have the following guys rated at least 10 spots higher than Thunder: Stribling, Cole, Williams.
    Setting aside the specific positions, I think Stribling is right there with Lewis and is overall one of the top 5 or 6 DBs. Also put several guys in the 20s that Thunder has already ranked....

    The guys I have way lower, that Thunder put into his top 30 are: RJS, Houma, Sypniewski, Gedeon. The overabundance of FB/LB types means none of these depth guys really matter that much. I can't imagine Sypniewski, as a newb, would be that hard to replace, but I could be wrong.

    The rest of my top 50 (I didn't go any lower):

    41. Mone - probably underrated here, we don't have many legit NT sized guys
    42. Marshall – freshman pass-rusher
    43. Burzynski – OL is just such a huge need…
    44. Gedeon
    45. D.Thomas – doubt he makes an impact till senior year
    46. J.Miller - don't know what would change now to make him playable
    47. J.Clark
    48. Dawson - I can hope
    49. Houma
    50. Sypnewski - last minute addition