ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Maurice Hurst finished the regular season as the highest-graded player in college football.
Hurst became the anchor of Michigan’s defensive line, and the leader of a defense that was one of the nation’s top units for a second consecutive year.
As a result, Hurst, a fifth-year senior and defensive tackle, is Land of 10’s pick as Michigan’s 2017 Most Valuable Player. Also considered by Land of 10 were defensive end Chase Winovich, linebacker Devin Bush Jr. and running back Karan Higdon.
Michigan will honor its seniors and will present its team awards at its annual banquet Tuesday in Livonia, Mich. The Wolverines and coach Jim Harbaugh will name their most valuable player for the 2017 season.
The winner will follow Jabrill Peppers, Michigan’s 2016 MVP who is a rookie with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
“He’s got talent, but he has an intensity about him,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said of Hurst. “A motor. Has really refined his technique, his fundamentals. He’s grown into his own style of play. He’s very good, very disruptive. To have the size he does and initial quickness, he has all those things. Really, a great example of someone who has developed into, it’s an understatement to say valuable, but a really, really valuable player.”
Hurst caught the eye of plenty of people, including Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.
“[Hurst] is the real deal,” Meyer said on Nov. 27, two days after Ohio State’s 31-20 win against Michigan. “He’s gotten better and better and better. It’s time for him to go to the NFL and get paid. That’s how much respect I have for him as a player, though.”
Hurst is projected to be a first-round draft pick in April. The 6-foot-2, 282-pound defensive tackle from Westwood, Mass., had 59 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks in 12 games this season.
“He does such a good job, quietly,” Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown said of Hurst, prior to Michigan’s regular-season finale against Ohio State. “Not a loud guy, but just quietly going to work every day.
“His game is elevated to a different level. And I think he realizes how important he is to the group.”
Hurst is an Associated Press First-Team All-America selection at defensive tackle and a second-team selection on the Football Writers Association of America’s All-America team.
— Maurice Hurst Jr (@mohurstjr) December 12, 2017
Hurst was also a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection.
Being a potential first-round draft pick, however, has Hurst weighing his immediate future at Michigan. He told reporters last week that he is weighing whether to play in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 against South Carolina.
Hurst will play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 27 in Mobile, Ala. The Senior Bowl is a prime showcase of NFL-caliber talent, prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, which begins Feb. 27 in Indianapolis.