Michigan star defensive back Daxton Hill is expected to play against Friday night as the No. 2 Wolverines take on No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl, sources told The Michigan Insider. Hill’s status was previously uncertain for the College Football Playoff semifinal matchup as he was not with the team in Florida as of Thursday morning. By late Thursday evening, however, multiple reports indicated that Hill had arrived in Florida and was with the team.
Coach Jim Harbaugh declined to offer details on Hill’s situation, saying Thursday that “he’s working through something right now.”
Hill is a key cog on the back end of the Wolverines’ defense, where he earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors this season for his play in the nickel back position. His 65 tackles are second on the team, and he’s recorded 4.5 stops for loss. He also has two interceptions and nine pass deflections. The former five-star prospect from Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been a presence since his true freshman season in 2019 when he appeared in all 13 games and transitioned to a starting role late in the season.
He then started every game at safety in 2020 before sliding to the nickel slot this season. Hill’s versatility has helped him catch the eye of NFL scouts. He ranks No. 25 overall in the 2022 CBS Sports NFL Draft Prospect Rankings and comes in as the No. 6 rated defensive back in the class. In a mock draft updated by CBS Sports’ NFL Draft writer Ryan Wilson on Tuesday, Hill was taken No. 23 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles.
“He’s underrated nationally but watch him play and it becomes clear pretty quickly that he’s in the running for one of the best defensive backs in this class,” Wilson wrote. “He’s listed as a safety but he can line up anywhere.”
Part of the speculation about Hill’s status appeared to stem from the fact that his brother, Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill, was placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list on Christmas Day. However, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Michigan was the lone program among the four CFP participants that kept its players from going home over Christmas in order to mitigate risk of COVID-19 exposure.