Freshpectations for 2016: Defensive Backs

Jim Harbaugh signed himself a well-rounded 2016 recruiting class and checked off every box on the board. But out of the class, one position group had to be named the best.

This is definitely a debatable topic but I believe one group stands out above the rest: The secondary. Not only did Michigan add two elite cornerbacks to the class but they also brought in two safety prospects that could end up being steals of the class. All four could end up playing early on in their careers.

The defensive back haul includes David Long, Lavert Hill, Khaleke Hudson and Josh Metellus.

Long

MGoFish Scouting Report

Long is one of the elite athletes in the country as he stars as both a cornerback and receiver at the high school level. He has that size and speed combination that every staff is looking for but adds in the instincts and quick feet necessary to be a #1 cornerback, something Michigan saw and targeted early on. Thanks to those traits and the talent that will surround him in Ann Arbor, he has a chance to play early and become a shutdown corner in the Wolverines secondary throughout his career.

Scout.com’s (via Greg Biggins) Scouting Report

Long is a two-way player who emerged this past spring as an elite cover corner. Has all the physical tools you could want in a next level DB including size, quickness, top end speed, instincts and toughness. He’s a smart player with a high understanding of how to play the game and always competes at a high level. He’s smooth in his backpedal, shows explosiveness getting in and out of his breaks and has excellent recovery speed as well

Rivals.com’s (via Tim Sullivan) Scouting Report

Long is an outstanding fit for Michigan’s press-man style of defense. Although he’ll need to add weight to continue winning battles at the line of scrimmage, he has a frame that should allow him to do that.

He’s a natural in man coverage, capable of sticking in receivers’ hip pockets, and on the occasion that he loses a receiver, he has excellent recovery speed to get back into position to make a play on the wideout or on the ball.

His ball skills are a plus as well. Long plays both ways for his high school team, and the pass-catching that he’s developed as a receiver allows him to not only break up passes, but come down with interceptions.

Thanks to his athleticism, he should also figure into special teams as a coverage player and potential returner.

Highlights

Hill

MGoFish Scouting Report

Hill is one of the best cover corners in the country and one of the best defensive backs Detroit has produced over the years, which is saying a lot when you consider the history (Jourdan Lewis, Damon Webb, Delano Hill, etc). Like Lewis, he has a chance to come in and contribute right away as the staff is always in need of aggressive, cover corners.

Scout.com’s Scouting Report

Has a natural knack for reading and jumping routes. Good, quick feet and ability to change directions. Technically sound and smooth in his backpedal and transition. Has the closing speed to makeup ground and break on passes. Must add size and strength. Solid wrap-up tackler, but must get stronger to improve in this area.

Rivals.com’s (via Tim Sullivan) Scouting Report

Hill played his first three years of high school ball at Detroit Cass Tech, and it’s another former Technician that comes to mind when watching his film: Michigan senior Jourdan Lewis. He doesn’t have quite the explosive quickness of Lewis (nor the ability with the ball in his hands), but is an outstanding coverage player.

Hill doesn’t have elite size for the position, but it’s more than adequate. Whatever he lacks in the ability to win jump-balls against big wide receivers, he makes up for in the coverage ability to be right in their hip pocket and give quarterbacks pause when it comes to testing him anyway.

Hill is a smooth athlete with good closing speed on the rare occasion he is beaten on a wide receiver’s move, and excels at breaking up passes that are anywhere in his vicinity.

He has been inconsistent at times in his high school career, letting one bad play affect the next and slipping in his concentration. However, that’s something he worked hard to improve during his senior year, and with the exceptional coaching he’ll receive at Michigan, he should be able to put it behind him.

Highlights

Hudson

MGoFish Scouting Report

Hudson is not only the best athlete in the Keystone state but he’s also one of the best athletes in the entire country. He has the build, speed, agility and toughness to be a standout at several positions (S/LB/RB/KR) throughout his college career which has some seeing Jabrill Peppers but I think he resembles former Ohio State/San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner just a little bit more.

Scout.com’s (via Brian Dohn) Scouting Report

Hudson is being recruited as a running back and/or safety, and it is easy to see why schools are split. He has good burst and covers 10 yards in a flash. As a running back, he gets through the hole quickly. As a safety, he closes quickly. In both instances, he is physical and loves to put his shoulder into the play. He has good speed and instincts, but needs to add some flexibility.

Rivals.com’s (via Tim Sullivan) Scouting Report

Although he doesn’t have the measurables to garner top rankings – he’s undersized and although he’s fast, his speed isn’t game-changing – Hudson has the mentality and skillset that often see prospects described as “just a playmaker.”

He won’t have to cover towering wide receivers on the outside, and though he doesn’t match up with the size of tight ends either, he’s more than physical enough to disrupt their timing off the line of scrimmage and ruin offenses’ timing. He can cover slot receivers across the middle as well.

Hudson has the burst off the edge to be a major addition as a blitzer, where he can wreak havoc on quarterbacks. He uses that speed – and his physical play – to be a top performer in the run game, as well.

Perhaps Hudson’s top attribute as a defensive prospect is his ability to lay big hits. He relishes contact, both on ball-carriers and blockers, and uses that mentality to make an impact – literally.

Hudson is also capable as a running back, where he has outstanding vision and a desire to get every inch out of each carry. However, that’s less likely to be his position in college.

Highlights

Metellus

MGoFish Scouting Report

Metellus is a hard hitting, physical safety that reminds me a bit of Detroit Lions’ strong safety James Ihedigbo thanks to his ability to make plays in the box as well as in coverage. Having a big hitting safety in centerfield could give the Michigan defense something it has been missing for years.

Touch the Banner’s Scouting Report

Metellus looks to be a shade under 6’0″ and while his highlight film says he’s 195 lbs., that is also questionable. Regardless, he has average size for a safety. The first thing that jumps out about Metellus is that he brings everything he has when he comes up to tackle. He’s a solid tackler and can patrol the middle. He wraps up well and runs his feet through contact. I also think he does a good job in run fits and can wade through the trash, changing direction well in small spaces to dodge blockers and find the ball carrier. Metellus tracks the ball well in the air, and it looks like he does a good job of keeping things in front of him.

Highlights

Michigan’s 2016 Depth Chart Prediction

Cornerback

  1. #26 Jourdan Lewis, SR
  2. #8 Channing Stribling, SR
  3. #34 Jeremy Clark, 5th 
  4. #6 Keith Washington, SO* 
  5. David Long, FR
  6. Lavert Hill, FR
  7. #28 Brandon Watson, JR*
  8. #17 Freddy Canteen, JR
  9. #30 Reon Dawson, SR* 

Nickel

  1. #5 Jabrill Peppers, JR* 
  2. #7 Khaleke Hudson, FR 
  3. #28 Brandon Watson, JR*

Safety

  1. #5 Jabrill Peppers, JR* 
  2. #44 Delano Hill, SR
  3. #25 Dymonte Thomas, SR 
  4. #23 Tyree Kinnel, SO
  5. #7 Khaleke Hudson, FR
  6. Josh Metellus, FR

Freshmen Year Expectations

The secondary recruiting class is one of the best hauls in the nation but it’s also being added to one of the returning secondaries in college football. With Lewis, Stribling, Clark, Peppers, Hill and Thomas returning, UM should be in great shape in 2016 with the freshmen looking more like depth players that will have their opportunity to learn, watch and grow.

  • Though he wasn’t the highest rated out of the group, Hudson is the freshmen I believe could not only see the field but become a big contributor throughout his freshmen year at the nickel corner spot behind Peppers.
  • Long and Hill are both guys that could definitely play their freshmen year, if needed. If injuries or poor play happen to one or two of the top corners, they could be the next guys up.
  • As for Metellus, he is by far the most likely to redshirt his freshmen year to learn from the staff and grow in the weight room. This should help both him and UM out with the senior departures coming after 2016.

What are your freshpectations for Michigan’s incoming defensive back signees? Add your thoughts below in the comment section! 

Photo Credit: Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette