Indianapolis — It seems like defensive back Dax Hill’s time at Michigan went by in a flash, a five-star recruit from Oklahoma, who spent three seasons with the Wolverines.
Hill now wants to fly by in a flash during his NFL Scouting Combine testing Sunday and has set a speedy goal.
“Just run fast, 4.3, 4.2,” Hill said Saturday of his 40-yard dash.
Wait, what? A 4.2?
“I was running fast in training, so you all just have to just stay tuned for it,” Hill said coyly during his podium interview session.
In high school, Hill had an official time of 4.3 in the 40, so the range isn’t out of reach. Baylor receiver Tyquan Thornton has set the pace this week at 4.28.
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Like many of his Michigan teammates here, Hill described the combine experience as “surreal.” Hill played three seasons at Michigan and last year had 69 tackles, second on the team, two interceptions and nine pass breakups. He was voted to the All-Big Ten first team by coaches. During his career, the 6-foot, 192-pound Hill played in 33 games and made 23 starts.
He nearly missed his final college game because of an undisclosed illness. Hill flew to Fort Lauderdale the day before Michigan’s national semifinal game in the Orange Bowl last December.
“I really was feeling under the weather and from there I was able to give it a go and they flew me out and I was able to play,” Hill said.
Hill did not practice that week, but continued to prepare and study film and the game plan. He said he was determined to play.
“Right when I flew in, I knew it was gonna be not a hassle but really have to remain focused and not think about the situation too much, just stay who I am and trust in the coaches,” he said.
Certainly, that situation coupled with the loss to Georgia was not the ending he envisioned for his college career, but last season did go a long way toward preparing him for this next step. Mike Macdonald, now the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator, spent last season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator and with defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale, also in his first season with the Wolverines last year, expanded Hill’s role.
“It was a lot on my plate for sure going from more predominantly man to a lot of different type of coverages as well as man,” Hill said. “At first it was kinda hard to get adjusted to it, but after I got used to playing in that type of defense, getting more reps in practice, everything was normal.”
He describes his playing style as a mix of aggressive and finesse, and credits Macdonald in part for helping him grasp the big picture. Hill understands certain situations require certain styles.
“Just seeing it from a holistic approach, everything he put in in terms of installs, all the meetings, all that really kinda gave it a pro-style feel to it,” Hill said of Macdonald.
Hill, whose brother Justice is a running back with the Ravens, said his goal is to be a starter during his rookie NFL season. Getting to that point starts here at the combine and with his numbers Sunday — he won’t do the bench press.
“This has been a dream of mine for a long time,” Hill said. “Seeing I’m accomplishing that now is a surreal experience.”
One he wants to complete with a speedy 40.