Recruiting is all about the finish.
And Michigan football wasn’t able to finish with 5-star safety Daxton Hill.
Hill, the No. 1 safety prospect in the 2019 class from Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington high school, announced his decommitment from the Wolverines and simultaneous pledge to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday night, less than three months after committing to coach Jim Harbaugh’s program, and fewer than two weeks away from the start of the early signing period Dec. 19.
The 6-foot, 186-pound Hill — regarded by many as the fastest player in the 2019 class — was the top-ranked prospect in Michigan’s 2019 recruiting class. He is also ranked in USA TODAY’s inaugural Chosen 25 football prospects for 2019.
“I would like to thank the University of Michigan for their love and support throughout this time recruiting me,” Hill wrote on Twitter. “Thank you to all the coaches at Michigan that took their time to come see me play or reached out to make sure everything was well with my family and I. This was a tough decision for me and my family but I have decided to de-commit from the University of Michigan and flip my commitment to the University of Alabama.”
Hill was the top prospect on Michigan’s recruiting board at the time of his commitment in September. He made his commitment to Michigan shortly after taking a visit to Ann Arbor for a Michigan win over SMU on Sept. 15.
At the time of his pledge, Michigan was believed to be in a good spot due to its safety situation overall. Hill, who has been timed at 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash, was expected to come in and compete for a starting job immediately next season with senior captain Tyree Kinnel graduating.
“I think it’s just a good old-fashioned depth chart (battle),” 247sports analyst Steve Lorenz said in September. “Alabama’s got a laundry list of top-100 guys waiting to play safety. Michigan’s got some young players at safety, but they don’t have a guy like him. I think they can look him in the eye, tell him he can play next year and not be lying at all.
“This guy is about as sure a thing at safety as you’re going to get. It’s massive.”
And Hill is now off to Alabama, the defending national champion and current No. 1 team.
Michigan, meanwhile, sees its commitment number for 2019 dip to 23 with Hill’s decommitment. The Wolverines have one safety pledge in the class, 4-star Quinten Johnson. Joey Velasquez, a 3-star prospect, is also listed as a safety, though reports say Michigan plans to use him as a viper linebacker in college.
The Wolverines entered the weekend with the No. 7-ranked recruiting class, but have slipped to No. 11, according to 247Sports. Michigan is now two spots behind Ohio State and No. 2 in the Big Ten.
Michigan is still pushing hard for a few top targets, notably 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison out of Lewis Center, Ohio. Harrison is the No. 4 player in the 2019 class.
The Wolverines are also after 5-star linebacker/running back Quavaris Crouch, 4-star offensive lineman Trevor Keegan, 4-star linebacker Kalen DeLoach and 4-star receivers Cornelius Johnson and Jaylen Ellis, among others.
Contact Nick Baumgardner: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NickBaumgardner.