ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Lavert Hill heard exactly what his position coach was saying. The Michigan defensive back likely read it, as well.
In fact, he’s been hearing what secondary coach Mike Zordich has been saying through most of Michigan’s preseason camp.
Earlier this week, Zordich issued a challenge to Michigan’s secondary, though some saw it as a warning issued through the media: Pick up the pace. You’ve got a game in less than two weeks.
“They’ve shown flashes,” Zordich told reporters Monday, when asked how his cornerbacks were progressing this preseason. “They just need to grab it. Somebody’s got to grab it and run with it and take it. It’s just not happening. Hopefully, somebody will in the next five to seven days because we’ve got to get ready for a game in less than two weeks.”
Michigan opens its season at 3:30 p.m. ET Sept. 2 against Florida in Arlington, Texas. Hill is projected as a starter at cornerback. He saw Zordich’s words, and he continues to hear what Zordich tells him and his teammates, loud and clear. It’s a challenge that Zordich has issued through the course of camp: Keep fighting, keep pushing through everything, including the adversity.
“It all got everybody going,” said Hill, a sophomore from Detroit’s Martin Luther King High School. “A couple people read it, and it just made everybody compete harder.
“We needed that. We have been picking up pretty quick now, since he said that. So, right now, everything is good.”
Michigan’s secondary has to replace the nation’s top pass defense in 2016. Cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling and Jeremy Clark, and safeties Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill (Lavert Hill’s older brother) teamed to allow an average of 142.5 passing yards per game.
All five are now with NFL teams and in preseason camps. Delano Hill was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in April.
“He taught me everything I know, basically,” Lavert Hill said. “To see where he’s coming from, that’s big. He told me to continue to work hard. Work on your craft, each and every day, and you’ll be as good as you want to be.”
Delano Hill continues to give his younger brother advice, checking in through the course of the week.
“He checks on me, and I just check on him to see where he’s at and to see where I’m at,” Lavert Hill said. “He tells me, ‘Stay humble, don’t panic about things and keep working.’ ”
As a freshman, Lavert Hill played in 11 games in 2016, including nine at cornerback, and had two tackles and a pass breakup. Now, he prepares for a bigger role with Michigan and is focusing on staying healthy and preparing himself from a psychological standpoint for his sophomore season.
“I got my feet wet a little bit, my freshman year,” Hill said. “That taught me a lot of things. The brothers I had on my team last year, they believed in me, so looking up to them, I was more prepared for this season, taking on a good leadership role.”
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