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Trieu: Michigan sets sights on speedy Illinois defensive back Jyaire Hill


When Illinois offered Kankakee (Ill.) junior defensive back Jyaire Hill following his visit to Champaign, it was not particularly surprising given the Illini’s desire to recruit the state.

Once Michigan offered, Penn State and Missouri, it was a signal that Hill’s recruitment was really taking off. Kankakee has always had talented players, but it was rare for Michigan or Penn State to extend offers.

Hill’s length (6-foot-2, 180 pounds), his multi-positional profile (which includes running back) and his track background make him one of the fastest rising recruits in the Midwest.

“His freshman year was my first year here,” Kankakee head coach Derek Hart said. “We kept him up with us the whole time and knew he was going to be the real deal. So he practiced with us, but played with the younger level. Then in the spring time (of 2021), he became a full-time varsity starter.”

Last season was strange due to COVID-19 in Illinois. There was no fall football, so it was not until spring when Hill had played enough on varsity to have film to send to schools. It took until this season for colleges to see enough.

“He has definitely gotten a lot better,” Hart said. “We knew, as a freshman, that he had the talent last year. But it had to all get molded together to become who he is now. He is a hard worker, one of those ultimate competitors. When he’s doing something, he wants to win at it, one-on-ones, seven-on-seven, everything is like the Super Bowl for him.”

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His knack for making clutch plays is also appealing.

“He has done it all season long in big spots,” Hart said. “There have been a couple times where we are down early or facing adversity and he makes a huge play. Week one, we’re down 7-6 early, the other team is on the two-yard line going into score, and he has a 98-yard scoop and score. Week two, up big early, they came back and he gets two picks back to back to flip the game completely.”

Thanks in part to Hill, Kankakee s 7-0.

“It's definitely a great thing for us and obviously for Jyaire. He deserves it, he has done all the right things,” Hart said. “For our program, it has gotten more eyes on the kids on the team, a lot of good young guys and some older guys. It puts more eyes on the kids in the program to get more opportunities. It’s a blessing.”

Hill has visited Illinois and Missouri and plans to visit Michigan before the end of the season.

West Coast prospect offered

Michigan has offered DeAndre Carter, a sophomore offensive tackle at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. He already stands 6-foot-5, 335 pounds.

Offensive line coach Sherrone Moore and director of player personnel Courtney Morgan, a California native, extended the offer for Michigan.

Cal, Oregon State and USC have also offered.

In-state recruit opportunity

Michigan has offered a preferred walk-on to Northville offensive tackle Jacob Merritt, a 6-foot-6, 275-pound prospect.

Merritt has several offers including Marshall. He has a preferred walk-on opportunity at Michigan State.

Michigan has had good success with preferred walk-ons in the past. Brothers Jordan, Ryan and Graham Glasgow all were drafted by the NFL after walking on.

Andrew Vastardis has developed into a starter and captain following starting his career as a walk-on.

More information

Jyaire Hill profile 

DeAndre Carter profile

Jacob Merritt profile

Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.