Name: Maurice Hurst, Jr.
Weight: 282 lbs.
High school: Westwood (MA) Xaverian Brothers
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #73
Last year: I ranked Hurst #39 and said he would be a backup nose tackle (LINK). He made four starts, 35 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks.
Hurst was maybe a bit of a pleasant surprise in 2015. He made just 3 tackles and 1 tackle for loss in 2014, and while he got some practice hype, he hadn’t shown a ton on the field. He also seemed to be pretty undersized for a nose tackle at a shade over 280 lbs. After Bryan Mone broke his leg in the pre-season and Ryan Glasgow tore his pec in the middle of the season, Hurst became The Man at nose tackle. He responded by making 35 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. Those numbers are comparable or favorable with the senior seasons of Terrance Taylor (35 tackles, 4 TFLs, 1.5 sacks), Alan Branch (25 tackles, 6 TFLs, and 2 sacks) and Gabe Watson (40 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 2 sacks). It should be noted that he achieved those numbers while starting only four games and beginning the season at #3 on the depth chart.
Pro Football Focus ranks Hurst as the #27 overall player in the country for 2016 (LINK), but I don’t quite buy that hype, and I also think Michigan has the horses to cover up for his absence if necessary. It’s unclear exactly how the rotation will go down, but Michigan can play Hurst, Matt Godin, and Chris Wormley at 3-tech defensive tackle this year. Hurst may be a backup nose tackle in some packages or if Michigan suffers injuries there again this year, but otherwise, I think Michigan could probably stand to lose one defensive tackle (Hurst or someone else) without suffering too much. Hurst will play plenty, he will be productive, and I think his quickness will give offensive guards some problems. However, Michigan is pretty deep on the defensive line, lessening the importance of any one guy.
Prediction: Part-time starting defensive tackle
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