We often hear about service academy offenses. How difficult is it of a challenge to prepare for them?
“Defending option football and conventional football at the same time. That’s what we’ve been studying. Air Force has been very successful. Seven, eight, nine game winning streak. They go back and forth between conventional and option football.”
Your defense is scoring a lot, more than they’re giving up. Is that something that has been emphasized? Is that just guys making plays? How do you account for that?
“It’s a good thing. Very good players and a good scheme and they work very hard at being good on defense.”
Talk about your impressions about Lavert Hill. I know you’ve been happy with him.
“Yeah, been happy with Lavert. He’s asserted himself and played very well. Made the big play for us in the ball game this past week.
“Tyree Kinnel would be another person that I’d spotlight; defensive player of the game; sacks, two I believe; tackles for loss; interception for touchdown; seven tackles total, I believe. Well done. Brandon Watson also had a couple PBUs and played very well. Josh Metellus did good. Up front, I thought Rashan had one of his best games. Devin Bush again, another very good game for him; sack, tackle for loss, PBU. Outstanding game by him. Chase Winovich. Noah Furbush was better. Mo Hurst probably played the best of all of our upfront defensive players.
“So, there was a lot of good. Dodged a couple bullets. As was pointed out, scored two touchdowns on defense, so we’re doing well. We’re good. Attribute that to hard work and good scheme and good players.”
How has Lavert—how have you seen him digest all the information that a young starter has to digest?
“Yeah, doing well. Seeing him digest information very well. Comes from good stock. You’d love to be Lavert Hill Sr., to have Delano Hill playing professional football and now here you see Lavert in there starting at corner, making plays, helping his team win. Lavert Hill Sr.’s probably boring the heck out of the neighbors with how well his sons are doing.”
[Learn how to avoid emotionally hijacking Jim Harbaugh after THE JUMP]
I wasn’t there but I figured this would make for a good workday read since it took place during a workday. Have at it, you transcription junkie.
“Good afternoon. Wonderful to be here. Gotta come from behind the curtain. Can’t enter from in front of the curtain, apparently. I can take questions.”
Your team took a trip to Rome in April where they practiced and had many unique experiences mixed in. You said about the trip that it was the best thing you’ve been a part of on a football team and that not all learning is done in the classroom and not all learning is done on the football field. After this season you plan on taking a team trip to Paris, Normandy, and London. My question is can you expound on why the Rome trip was valuable and why trips in the future will be valuable to your football team?
“Yes. It’s just incredible to connect with somebody from a different country, to see something that you’ve never seen before, taste food that you’ve never tasted or hear a language that you’ve never heard and then experience it as a team, like eighth grade classes that go to Washington D.C. for a field trip or a twelfth grade class the goes to Rome, much like that.
“To be able to experience it as a group makes it so much better, 900x better, because you’re getting not only your own experience but everyone in the group’s and it’s a chance to put the ‘college’ back in ‘college football.’ It’s a chance to have the whole world be your classroom. Not all learning is done in a classroom or on a football field. It’s out there living, out there seeing and doing. I would recommend it because it has bee the best thing that I’ve ever done personally as a part of a football team.”
Could you talk about Rashan Gary? I can’t recall any D-lineman at Michigan having this much preseason hype since LaMarr Woodley. Talk about how Rashan has handled that and how high the ceiling is for this young man.
“Thank you, yes. Very interesting to see how Rashan has handled it. To me, I’ve watched it—was one of the top recruits, maybe the top recruit coming out of high school. He’s had a lot of hype. He’s had a lot of adulation. You know, there’s some people that that’s what they live for. They live for that approval of others and to be recognized as a hyped-up player and then there’s other people that they see that hype or that adulation and they go by it like it’s a cone, an orange cone, on the side of the road.
“There’s some people that are just aspiring to greater things than just the adulation of somebody, and I think Rashan is that type of guy. You really like him. He really doesn’t care too much about that. He’s gone by it like it’s a cone, an orange cone, on the side of the road. He just works, and I really think competing is his favorite thing to do. And he has the license and ability to be great, to be really good. I don’t know what more to say about that.”
[After THE JUMP: thoughts on every class, dropping two-a-days, how long it takes to find a starting QB, and tapping a losing streak for motivation]
What is this: It’s pre-season All-Big Ten #content given the ol’ MGo-Really-Do-A-Job treatment. We hold a snake draft of Big Ten players and try to build the best teams. You come out of it with a four-deep preseason All-Big Ten. We come out of it primed to cover the upcoming football season. Side effects include arguing with a vocal minority who think an unscored draft with offensive linemen is a fantasy league, and bloggers who drafted Ramcyzk, Cichy, and Igwebuike in late rounds finding flimsy exuses to remind people of that. #ItsTotallyNotAFantasyDraft
We have rules: if 3 guys have drafted a position you have 2 rounds to follow suit. Teams are a QB, RB, OLx5, WRx2, DEx2, DTx2, LBx2, Sx2, CBx2 K, P, and some flex players. RANDOM.org determines the draft order, which this year is BiSB, Brian, Seth, and Ace. Let’s begin.
BiSB: ROUND 1, PICK 1: SAQUON BARKLEY, RB, Penn State
Running back is one of the deeper position in the Big Ten this year. But I don't think there's another position where the best player is so clear-cut. And while we Michiganders aren't allowed to use the B-word lightly, watching Saquon Barkley run makes even the most reverent among us mutter "Barry Sanders" involuntarily.
See poor damn #35 in that video? The guy who seems unfamiliar with how football works? That's USC's leading tackler and second-team All-Pac-12 linebacker Cameron Smith. And he never had a chance.
Barkley led the Big Ten in yards from scrimmage. His 5.5 yards per carry were best among players with at least 15 carries per game. His 402 receiving yards were best among all running backs (excluding Curtis Samuel, who was listed as a back but usually lined up as a receiver). His 14.62 yards per reception was 13th best among ALL Big Ten players with 2+ receptions per game, and was the best number put up by a running back in at least a decade.
He has straight-line speed. He has almost unparalleled lateral quickness. He runs behind his pads. He runs excellent routes and can catch the ball out of the backfield. He's very adept at pass protection and blitz pickup. He's Pro Football Focus's best returning Big Ten player. Vegas has him as one of the pre-season Heisman front-runners. He did... this?
Seth: Some of that Sanders comp might be because he's dodging his first two tackles immediately after the handoff.
BiSB: Indeed. If you recall this from last year, we had reason to believe two things about Penn State's running game; that Barkley was going to have to do a lot of stuff by himself, and that he probably could.
Seven Michigan players have gone in the first 17 picks. Now it's time to see who's good on the other teams, right?
(Ace's Round 5 pick was part of last week's)
ADAM: Round 5, Pick 2: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Offense: Pat Elflein (C/OG-OSU), Dan Feeney (OG-Indiana) Defense: Jourdan Lewis (CB-Michigan), Dawuane Smoot (DE-Illinois), Taco Charlton (DE-Michigan)
Yeah, I took Smoot before Charlton, but there's no defensive end in the conference whose upside I'm more excited about than Charlton's. At 6'6 and 287 pounds he's big enough to play strongside end, but his insane athleticism allows him to play just as (if not more) effectively at weakside end.
He'll likely get the majority of his snaps at weakside end this fall, a position he didn't start at until last season's Penn State game. Despite that, Charlton racked up 5.5 sacks and 8.5 TFLs in 2015. He took the opportunity presented against PSU and promptly destroyed Christian Hackenberg, displaying his power on a stunt inside in which he bull-rushed his way through a guard:
And later flashing some of his pass-rush moves when he swam past the left tackle:
PFF says his 41 total pressures ranked sixth among defensive ends; imagine what he can do with a full season at WDE, another year under the tutelage of Greg Mattison, and the added benefit of Don Brown's insane slants and stunts.
Scheduling note: Yeah we had one on Monday; that was last week's, pushed back by all the commitments.
Seth: Every year there's at least one guy from down the depth chart who emerges as a major contributor even though we barely talk about him in the season previews. Who's the surprise guy this year?
Ace: Provided he's healthy when the season starts, and it appears he's on track, I'll go with Khalid Hill. Michigan is going to need a second tight end option after Jake Butt in Jim Harbaugh's offense, and Hill flashed potential last year before he tore his ACL in October. Known as a smooth route-runner with good hands coming out of high school, Hill showed off a somewhat unexpected aspect of his game—bowling over defenders in the running game:
Hill is limited by his size—he's a pure H-back at this point—but he should still prove quite useful as a reliable receiver and very willing blocker.
Alex: I would go with somebody on the defensive line. I'm not sure if Durkin will be as liberal with his defensive line rotations as Hoke/Mattison were (and I don't know if Mattison will be given the leeway to rotate again, which seems like a good bet) but if he is, I think that we could certainly have some breakthrough candidates on the defensive line. There's plenty of opportunity at the end spots—Ojemudia hasn't gotten big enough to be a consistent performer and Charlton still hasn't approached his level of recruiting hype (and potential, theoretically). Glasgow has one DT spot locked down, and Willie Henry seems to have a stranglehold on the other.
But if he can get on the field, my surprise performer is Maurice Hurst. He has a lightning-quick first step for a man his size and if we can get him to generate pass rush from the DT position, that will allay one of our biggest prospective weaknesses on that side of the ball. Mone, Wormley, and Poggi (who's a SDE) could all also be huge surprises as well.
Adam: I also think we're going to be surprised by one of the tight ends, but my choice is Ian Bunting. We know about Harbaugh's affinity for blocky/catchy guys, and Bunting's well on his way to being one. He put on 16 pounds over the winter, bringing him to a respectable (and much more in line with the rest of his position group) 243 pounds. At that weight he should be able to line up, put a hand in the dirt, and not tip off a pass play.
The catching part of being a blocky/catchy guy was never going to be a problem for a dude who has opposable skillets attached to his arms. Blocking was always going to be the issue for a nominal tight end who spent most of his high school career lining up outside, and even then it was simply a matter of size rather than willingness; Bunting posted separate highlight film of his blocking on his Hudl page. Now that he's in the range of plausible weights for a D-I tight end I'm expecting him to be the kind of matchup nightmare the Harbaughfense thrives on.
Seth: Brian wrote in HTTV that James Ross III had plateaued from the incisive freshman we were so excited about. One implication of being a base nickel with Peppers as a strongside slot space monster is that lifts a linebacker. Or did last year, cutting heavily into Ross's snaps. I find this sufficient underratement to justify defining him as a "surprise" star on this year's defense.
The loss of snaps to nickels may not be such a big deal this year, depending on how much of the Florida defense is ported to the new platform. There Durkin loved a lean, mean attack piece. His SAM last year was Neiron Ball, now with the Raiders. For Florida Ball was a Ross-like object consistently deployed as field side LB, whether that was technically MLB, or a nickel, a meat-raw version of the aggressive safety in the other slot. Given Michigan's uncertain DE depth, that surfeit of 30 (three DL) fronts would be a welcome wrinkle in Ann Arbor, drawing Ross back into the lineup instead of an end.
I also think he's still a better player than Bolden—that gap seems to narrow when Bolden faces Michigan's own offense because knowing the plays lets him match the effect of Ross's intuitiveness. Ross came on later last year as Michigan left him in as a hybrid spacebacker, and while that job is now Peppers's, any configuration that takes Ross off the field seems worse than the +Ross option. Add a bit of havoc from the aggressive stuff and sharing a side with Peppers and Taco, and there's plenty of opportunity for Ross to build his NFL highlight reel this year.
Brian: My surprise contributor this year is Dennis Norflee—dammit.
My surprise contributor this year is Delano Hill. He is officially a backup at safety, but in practice my hunch is that we see an awful lot of him. Jabrill Peppers is all-time nickel and he's going to be at or near the LOS at all times. Michigan faces a number of spread teams; Hill will be a de facto starter against them. He will also play extensively in regular manball games, because those also feature lots of passing downs—especially against a run defense that should be very good. He will play, a lot.
When he does Michigan will have a very fast, hopefully instinctive safety. Marcus Ray has been pumping him up as the best guy there, and he's a dude who knows safety play. I've been impressed in limited snippets so far as well; the bet here is that he eats into linebacker snaps on the regular.
[why take a new picture when there’s perfection in your file?]
"What can I answer?"
Can you just tell us about the whole process of staying? There was some uncertainty there about what your future was going to be and then talking to Jim…
"Yeah. Whenever there's a changeover the head coach will always hire who he wants to hire and I feel very fortunate to be able to stay at Michigan. You know I love Michigan and I feel very strongly about the players coming back and the guys in this program and I feel very strongly about Coach Harbaugh. I've known that family for a long time. It's just great to be back. That's the thing I'll say."
Were you exploring other options in that interim?
"I had a number of offers. Some in the NFL and things like that, but I made up my mind that if I had the opportunity I'd love to stay and I did, so I stayed."
Talk about this defense. You were excited about it growing last year but obviously this year–
"Well, I'll tell you what. One thing: DJ Durkin is doing a tremendous job, and I think the defensive coaches– It's exciting because you see some of the things we're doing, some of the kids with experience, some of the kids picking it up and it's exciting to see it moving forward. It's exciting to see the kids getting really coached and wanting to get coached and it's good."
Do you have a preference between the defensive line and linebacker, because you've coached both?
"Yeah, I've coached defensive line my whole life. You know, I started out as a D-line coach and I coached the line, oh, I don't know, if you figure– I'd hate to say how many years because that'd give up how many years I've been coaching, but I do know I've coached defensive line probably a lot longer than linebackers and I really like the defensive line. It's a place where I think technique and teaching [are important] and you can get guys to be better. You can make improvements there through technique and hard work so I'm excited to coach the D-line."
There's been a lot of talk of running some 3-4 defense this year, which you haven't done a lot of. Is that different for the defensive linemen?
"You know, we're exploring everything. We did that last year. We ran that last year, but what we're kind of doing on defense [is] trying to see what scheme fits the players we have, so we're pretty broad with what we're doing."
What has your working relationship been like with DJ Durkin and how are you guys kind of feeding off each other?
"Well, Coach Durkin and I are very, very close friends. We coached together a long time ago at Notre Dame. I traveled down there two years ago back to Florida to talk to him about what they were doing and he's done a great job wherever he's been. I've known DJ for a long time and I've always felt that he's a tremendous football coach. Some of the things that he's done at a young age at Florida is remarkable and I knew that, and that's why it's exciting to work with him. It's fun because were not just coaches together, we're friends and that's – I've always liked to be a part of something like that."
[After THE JUMP: Position buzz and 2-gap talk]
Who are some of your pass rushers, and talk about the standup outside linebacker.
"We've had a number of guys get nicked up and guys are really working hard. Our numbers are down on the D-line and they just keep working through it. I'm not going to single out anybody because they're all working extremely hard, and we won't know until into the season who our pass rushers are. I hope every one of them are. I think the one position, if I did single one out, that I'm really, really pleased with is the noseguard position. I think Glasgow and Mone and Hurst are doing a really, really good job. And the other positions are working hard also, I just– that's the group that really seems like they've got a lot of experience."
Is Willie [Henry] playing the nose too?
"No, Willie will be playing tackle and end."
You have a good relationship with these guys on defense already. Have you served as a liaison between the players and the staff?
"No, I haven't needed to do that. I think somebody else asked me that one time. These coaches are so experienced and there's no liaison necessary. I think when the kids are in their meetings and they're being coached by them, players understand right away when a guy who's coaching them is really doing a great job and is really sharp and I think these kids knew right away. I mean, how could you help but not? I talked about DJ and you've got Mike Zordich and Greg Jackson, who played 12 years in the NFL. He coached at the highest level and both of them have coached in the NFL. They are very experienced, very good coaches."
How about from the other end? Have any coaches come to you and said, 'Hey, this guy responds this way' or 'This guy plays real well in this technique'?
"No, it hasn't been– we all speak so freely in our meeting room that if somebody would bring up something about a player and I've seen it before or I haven't seen it before I'll just say that. I kind of have the luxury of having been with them so I'll just say, 'This kid really is a good player, he really is doing a good job,' and I'll say, 'He had signs of showing that before,' that kind of thing. They've done such a good job, in my opinion, knowing what each player's strength is and each player, what he needs to work on so it hasn't been that kind of thing."
You were pretty adamant last season about the experienced youth on this team and that it was coming. You're here this spring now: Have you seen it?
"I have. Yeah, I have. I've seen these kids working hard. I've seen them be a lot more mature. I mean, these practices are tough practices, and if you're a young kid you kind of maybe fold. There's times sometimes where that happens. I've been real pleased with our guys as far as stepping forward and just keep going, keep going. That shows experience."
You talked about coming back to finish what you guys started. Is that the message from you to the guys you're coaching? I mean, you recruited a lot of those guys.
"Yeah, I don't know if it's to finish because when you finish you say it's over. I just wanted to stay a part of what Michigan is and what Michigan will be and what Michigan has been forever and I think that's coming. I just want to be a part of that and I'm fortunate to be a part of it."
You've worked for a lot of different guys at all different levels, including Jim's brother. What's it like working for Jim? What are his unique traits?
"Well, he's just a very, very, very sharp coach. He's really, really intelligent. He's demanding. He's very businesslike. Every day you're going to work to get better. He expects his coaches to work hard. He expects his coaches to do their job. You don't win 49 games in the NFL in three years and not be a great coach. And he's always been that; you don't do what he did at Stanford and not be a great coach. And everywhere he's been he's just done a great job."
There's a lot of guys on the staff with NFL experience, whether it's playing or coaching. How are you seeing details of that applied to this spring practice?
"I think the one thing when there's a lot of experience in a coaching staff [is] you can make adjustments very easy and be able to teach it. Sometimes what happens if you don't have a lot of experience and there's adjustments to be made [is] you have to teach the coaches first and then the coaches have to teach the players but this staff, they have so much experience that they've done that. They say, 'Oh yeah, we've done this. We can get this done' and it's easy to make adjustments that way."
What have you seen from Chris Wormley so far?
"Chris Wormley is working really, really hard. He seems every day to be taking another step toward being the Chris Wormley that we recruited and the Chris Wormley that you were really expecting to see before he had the knee [injury], and I'm really happy with the way he's been working. He's been very physical. He's totally into it. He's been a leader by example. I'm get pleased with what Chris has done."
MGoQuestion: Are there guys on this line that can play two gaps or are you not really looking at 2-gapping this season?
"Well, I think in every defense you have to 2-gap sometimes, so it's nothing different. But it remains to be seen. There's not a lot of people that do play 2-gap."
You've run the show here defensively for the last four seasons. How difficult is that transition to not be-
"Not at all. Not at all. Not at all because, as I said, I really respect the guy I'm working with and the guys I'm working with, and I've done that for so long that sometimes you say it's kind of enjoyable just to take these four guys and see how good they can be. And I knew that when Jim hired me, there's only one coordinator and what he says we do and once you get that you say, 'Okay, my job is to go coordinate the defensive line and to do a great job with that.' And I've done it so long, I've had so many opportunities to do it that it's really just about seeing how good we can get this team."
[Note: Mattison and Greg Jackson’s availability overlapped, so this transcript isn’t complete. I switched over to Jackson’s huddle at this point and missed 1-2 minutes of Mattison.]
Also here's a lot of stuff from the Semper Fi game:
Junior highlights come highly recommended since they include a lot of Hurst being a terrifying/hilarious running back. Stay for the first TD run at 30 seconds.
I am trying to keep things reasonable around these parts, but I watched Maurice Hurst's highlight reel and now I'm impressed. You know those defensive line drills where you start out in a stance and then burst upwards into a fake opponent's chest? Maurice Hurst is going to be awesome at that. Also now I'm just going to grab that run and put it right here because it is delightful:
“We tell all the college coaches he’s a defensive lineman and that’s what they’re recruiting him as, then all these defensive coordinators, this guy from Michigan, Billy McGovern from BC, they come in and sit down and they go, ‘Oh ya, that 75-yard touchdown was unbelievable.’
“Billy McGovern says he ran it back and asked all the guys in the room, ‘Do we have anyone who can do that?’ They go, ‘No.’ Well OK, we’re offering him.’’
Michigan fired out an offer to him as well and that was about that. Hurst is a high-academic kid who had an OSU offer but was looking for something else…
"Academics are my big priority. Football ends, so I want a degree that will last a lifetime, one that is more than a piece of paper. UVa and Michigan are tremendous schools and offer prestigious degrees."
…and cut his list to Michigan and Virginia—a pattern emerges—before a visit to Ann Arbor sealed the deal last June.
Michigan has won themselves a quick first step attached to a body. That body is not enormous like Ondre Pipkins's or a single pulsating muscle like Mike Martin's. Hurst does not pass the look test… until you snap the ball.
When Hurst was a freshman, the first thing Stevenson noticed wasn’t his size, his competitiveness, or his skills. It was his first step.
“I think probably the first indication to me was my defensive coordinator Al Fornaro said, ‘You’ve got to see this guy come off the ball.’ I looked and went yay. … I would compare his first step to a kid who played for us the late ’90s, Scott Bradley. Scott had a tremendous first step and that was the thing that sold all the coaches on Scotty, that first step. The difference between the two is that Scotty was 215 pounds, Mo is 295 pounds. If you’re 295 and can do what a 215-pounder does, you’re a good football player.’’
This is the first time in the history of this series it has caught a hard-nosed gravel-eating sonsabitch high school football coach describing something as "yay."
Hurst wasn't much of a camp guy, only appearing at one area event when he was a rising junior, but he left a similar impression.
… has a nice frame that can still add weight but what really stands out about him is his quickness off the ball and his light feet. Hurst beat most of his opponents with his first step and he was able to win the leverage game most of the time as well. At times he can be too upright and present too much of a target. His footwork is excellent and he has natural balance, and he is very good at responding quickly to the initial punch of offensive linemen. He also showed a good motor.
Every evaluation continues in a similar vein. Rivals praises his "great burst first step" in their Areas of Improvement(!) for him by mentioning he needs to use it more consistently. They're just going off his highlight film but they also like his technique:
Hurst uses his hands extremely well for a young player. On each play he is seen using his hands to control his opponent, quickly dismissing a block, or maintaining leverage as he pursues the ball carrier. Good balance is critical for interior line play and Hurst shows that with impressive body control.
In other news of a similar variety:
Coach: "He's a great athlete…. His first step off the line of scrimmage is very strong, and he's very powerful."
An opposing coach: "We tried to run away from him but sometimes that's worse because he's so quick."
Scout's take: "Hurst is athletic, explosive, moves his feet well, has a few nice techniques he uses to get into the backfield and runs well for a defensive lineman."
On the downside, ESPN's evaluation is heavy on words like "capable," "flashes," "adequate," and "consistently." Unlike some ESPN profiles, the drapes do match the carpet here. It sounds like a three-star eval.
…capable of being disruptive. … You would like to see more consistency but displays a good first-step that can allow him to quickly get penetration. He is at his best when he can fire out and primarily be a penetrator that disrupts schemes. Flashes the ability to be tough when taking on blockers as he can quickly fire out low and gain leverage and with solid strength hold his ground. While he does possess a quick first-step he can at times almost as quickly pop up and play tall and needs to work to consistently keep his pads down. … Hurst is capable of quickly getting off the ball and being disruptive and if he can continue to maintain that while adding size and rounding out his game he can develop into a good and productive college defensive tackle.
Despite some impressive offers, Hurst's visibility was pretty low for much of his recruitment. The competition level in Massachusetts is… uh… not high, and after that one camp before his junior year Hurst ditched the camp scene.
Hurst's relative obscurity was somewhat lifted by his appearance at the Semper Fi game. While Semper Fi is clearly #3 in the All Star pecking order it's still a major step up in competition for everybody there, let alone a guy tossing around MA kids. Hurst did well, acquiring a sack on one of his first snaps in the game itself and impressing everyone in practice. 247 Pitt analyst Bob Lichtenfels is just answering Pitt questions here and drops in a Hurst mention:
“He struggled between plays,” said northeast recruiting analyst Brian Dohn. “It looked like he could barely move. Once the ball snapped, he was a complete animal. His explosion is terrific. His aggressiveness and ability to get underneath lineman is tremendous. And what impressed me the most about him, was beside his physical ability, was the toughness he showed in practicing for two days when he was just sick as a dog.”
Hurst is the type of player that you don’t really notice when he’s standing in the huddle but as soon as the ball is snapped, he shows up quickly. His play on Wednesday was characterized by high effort, an intensity to get to the football, and quickness to get into the backfield. The Michigan commit has been one of the better practice players this week.
247 and Scout moved them into their top lists as a solid four star; Rivals barely covered Semper Fi, apparently sending one guy to cover 100 or so players. Hurst didn't get a mention in the one article about who might be good on his team.
Michigan projects Hurst will add a ton of weight, telling his coach they think he'll end up pushing 330 pounds. That would make him a nose all the way. That'll also take a bit of time. While he's bulking up he may find some time as a three-tech. He's got the burst to be effective there and is already larger than Jibreel Black; while I expect a redshirt since Michigan seems to have a solid two deep (or more) at both spots Hurst can play, playing time could come as early as next year if he has the versatility to play two spots.
Etc.: Hurst's senior year stats were eye-popping as you might expect from a kid headed to Michigan playing against Massachusetts folk: 23 TFLs and 11 sacks. At press time, Hurst's most recent tweet is "Need food" and his location is "A BACKFIELD NEAR YOU." Instagram is something. TTB interview. Tap dancing!
Tell us something that most people do not know about you?
MH: Most people do not know that when I was younger from first grade until about fifth grade I took tap dancing and I really believe that it helped me with my foot work on the football field.
On the difficulty of his decision: "Not that difficult. After coming in, there was just that feeling, 'What if I went somewhere else?' or 'What if I committed when I thought I could go to another school?' At first I thought I was gonna commit to BC, then I thought I was gonna go to Virginia. Then Michigan came along, and I knew this was the school I wanted to go to."
"He's a great kid," Stevenson said. "He's a captain for next year. He's a good worker in the weight room, he's a good leader for his teammates as far as his work ethic, and I've never heard anything negative from his teachers. He's done some community service helping with the elderly, helping at a shelter for abused women, and at a place where they provide help to feed the poor."
Why Mike Martin? Two words: snap explosion.
Martin was a bit higher rated—consensus four star outside the top 100, IIRC—and an ever-growing slab of pulsating muscle from day one. Hurst isn't going to be quite as ripped, but he is a kid who can get off the ball in a flash, bury himself in the chest of the opponent, and then rip through the dude before he knows what's going on.
Guru Reliability: Low. Significant disparity, Massachusetts is virtually ignored, apparently did not hit a single camp, though he did show for the Semper Fi game and impress.
Variance: Moderate. Another guy with the opposite of character issues. Coming from seriously weak high school competition, which makes for hilarious highlight reels but also uncertainty.
Ceiling: High-minus. Love, love his quickness and he has adequate size. Probably not a guy with first round upside, though.
General Excitement Level: High. I know, I know, I'm just a bubbly 14-year-old girl about this recruiting class, but what can I say? Hurst is a guy who has bloodlines, can make a reasonable case he was overlooked because of his state, stature and camp avoidance, and blew up at an All Star game that caused everyone who paid attention to shoot him up in the rankings. And if you're asking me the #1 thing I want to hear about a DT "explosive first step" is it.
Projection: Ondre Pipkins had better get on his horse because Willie Henry and Hurst are coming for him.
Hurst should be a redshirt lock with a solid three-deep in front of him. In year two the three guys mentioned will have a battle royale for the starting spot Quinton Washington vacates, with the runner-up also getting a significant amount of playing time. Pipkins is still the favorite, but I would not rule out Hurst becoming a productive backup as quickly as next year. Failing that he should emerge into a rotation nose tackle as a redshirt junior, if he is not the starter.
Hurst also has the potential to compete at three-tech with his explosion, and if things are going well at nose I expect he will be moved there and be a heavy rotation feature, whether that's behind or in front of Chris Wormley. He should be getting significant snaps by year three, if not earlier.
Today's recruiting roundup covers the various All-American bowl practices, the latest on Derrick Green, and (debunked) rumors about a commit taking visits.
L to R: Jourdan Lewis, Dymonte Thomas, Derrick Green, Jake Butt, Chris Fox
Michigan has four commits at the Army All-American Game and many are wondering if they'll soon have a fifth after VA RB Derrick Green jumped into a picture with them (above, via). Green conducted a live chat on Rivals yesterday, reiterating that Michigan is his top school, holding a "small" lead over the field—Auburn, Tennessee, Miami, Florida State, and USC. He also got the Fred Jackson Seal of Approval for this quote:
Comment From Guest
Who would you compare your running style to?
Derrick Green: I compare my running style to a combination of Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker and Trent Richardson
Green mentioned the possibility of committing within the next week or so—though not at the Army game itself—but also stated a desire to take his two remaining official visits even after he commits; if his choice is Michigan, he'd obviously have to talk that out with the coaches.
FL S Leon McQuay III is set to announce on Friday and the sense from insiders is that Florida State—the presumed pick—and USC both hold an edge on Michigan, and quite possibly Vanderbilt does as well. If he holds off on making a decision, which Sam Webb has mentioned as a slight possibility, then the Wolverines could have hope; as it stands, not so much.
Matters are looking better for CA OL Cameron Hunt, at least if Patrick Kugler is to be believed:
Today's recruiting roundup covers new offers in both the '13 and '14 classes, the updated Rivals rankings, and more.
Found: Goal Line Back, Destroyer Of Worlds
If you like to watch enormous people destroy things, you'll very much enjoy Maurice Hurst Jr.'s senior highlight tape:
About the only thing that's missing is him beating a block in a fashion other than bull rush. When your bull rush works like this, though, there's not much reason to switch things up at the high school level:
When you're done marveling at MASS DESTRUCTION, check out the "block" by the fullback
Also, if Hurst is never used as a goal-line back at Michigan, I'll be a very sad panda.
247 released senior highlights of Jake Butt this week, as well—he did impressive work on offense this season, lining up both as a traditional tight end and split out wide.
[Hit THE JUMP for a roundup of Michigan's latest offers, the updated 2013 Rivals rankings, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses Laquon Treadwell's new top five, the Gareon Conley non-situation, last weekend's high school football action, and more.
Noted Amateur Chef Names Top Five
As you'll learn from the above video, IL WR Laquon Treadwell apparently has some talent in the kitchen in addition to the football field. You'll also find out that he has a new top five, in no particular order, of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Michigan State, and Michigan. It appears this was "Interview Laquon Treadwell Week" as you learn from various sources that:
Treadwell has official visits in the works for Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Ole Miss, and plans to take unofficials to Ann Arbor (for the MSU game) and East Lansing before making a decision.
As for the direction this one is headed, I don't know, man. I still feel like Michigan has a better shot than any other school on the list; the problem is there are four other schools on the list, and the only choice that would truly shock me is Michigan State. We'll see what he's saying after his visit for the State game; if Michigan hasn't distinguished themselves from the field at that point, it's cause for serious concern.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Gareon Conley, commitment stat updates, and more.]