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Michigan football finished the 2021 season with three potential first-round picks on defense, and now all three of them have chosen to enter the NFL draft.
Junior defensive back Daxton Hill, a former five-star recruit, joined teammates Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo by voicing his intention to turn pro. He announced the decision on social media Thursday evening.
“I would like to thank God for placing me at the University of Michigan and for giving me an opportunity to represent myself and my family,” Hill wrote on Instagram. “My experience will be remembered forever because of how I was welcomed into the Michigan Family.
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“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of the coaches who have invested in me along with my teammates and friends who have helped me get to this point in my career. Your encouragement has kept me motivated throughout my time here at Michigan and for that, I am extremely grateful.
“I want to give a special thank you to my family for the strong support system you all have given me. Without your consistent love and support, I wouldn’t be half of the person I am today.
“It’s been a long, unforgettable journey that I’ve had these past three years which has shaped who I’ve become. After much prayer and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to enter the 2022 NFL Draft.
“Thank you. #GOBLUE”
Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald tabbed Hill for the important nickel position that functions as a hybrid corner/safety role. There were also times when Macdonald rotated Hill to safety or used him as a traditional corner, depending on which personnel grouping an opponent used.
All told, Hill finished with a team-high 739 snaps this season split between the slot (531), the box (112), free safety (63) and corner (16). Hill ranked second on the team in tackles with 69 and tied for the team lead in interceptions with two.
That type of versatility is a large part of Hill’s appeal to NFL scouting departments. Macdonald and defensive pass game coordinator Steve Clinkscale have said Hill can play any position in the secondary at the next level — from perimeter corner to nickel to safety — and has the requisite athleticism and football intelligence to be utilized like a chess piece. He is projected as a first- or second-round pick.
His decision to leave with two years of eligibility remaining marks the end of a high-profile career at U-M that began with a wild recruitment. Hill was the No. 14 overall prospect in the class of 2019 and gave a verbal commitment to Michigan in September of 2018. He decommitted three months later and quickly pledged himself to Alabama. The second verbal commitment lasted 11 days before Hill reneged on his promise to the Crimson Tide and joined the Wolverines for good.
His absence leaves Macdonald without a handful of key players on a defense that was among the best in the country this season. In addition to losing three potential first-round picks, the Wolverines also said goodbye to defensive tackle Christopher Hinton, who also entered the draft earlier this week.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football DB Daxton Hill enters 2022 NFL draft