Daxton Hill declared for the NFL Draft on Thursday. Madeline Hinkley/Daily. Buy this photo.

As the Michigan football team prepares to defend its Big Ten title in 2022, it will do so without one of its top defensive backs.

On Thursday, junior nickel corner Daxton Hill announced he will forgo his senior year and declare for the NFL Draft.

“It’s been a long, unforgettable journey that I’ve had these past three years, which has shaped who I’ve become,” Hill wrote in an Instagram post. “After much prayer and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to enter the 2022 NFL Draft.”

A five-star recruit in 2019, Hill appeared in 33 games during a standout three-year college career. The Oklahoma native recorded 151 total tackles, 7.5 of which came in the backfield. He emerged as one of the Wolverines’ top coverage options, totaling 20 pass deflections and four interceptions while also recovering three fumbles. When Michigan hired defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald last offseason, Hill transitioned from safety to nickel seamlessly.

In 2021, Hill became the face of a much-improved Wolverines secondary. The unit finished in the Big Ten’s bottom five in almost every major defensive statistical category in 2020 before finishing as the conference’s fourth-best scoring defense this season. Hill earned All-Big Ten honors for his contributions on defense and special teams.

In December, longtime ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. pegged Hill as his No. 2 safety. With Hill, senior edge Aidan Hutchinson and junior edge David Ojabo all in the NFL Draft, the Wolverines could have three first-round picks in April.