Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday that star defensive back Daxton Hill is questionable for Friday’s College Football Playoff semifinal matchup against No. 3 Georgia. As of Thursday morning, Hill was not in Florida with the No. 2 Wolverines as they prepare to play the Bulldogs in the 2021 Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Florida.
“He’s working through something right now,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll know more today whether he’ll be able to play.”
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. He is Michigan’s second-leading tackler with 65 tackles, including 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 appears 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.
Michigan and Georgia are set to clash on Friday night in the Orange Bowl at 7:30 p.m. ET.