Xaverian defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. committed to the University of Michigan on Saturday afternoon, while on an unofficial visit to the campus. He is now the fifth player from Massachusetts in the past two years to make a pledge to a Big Ten school, joining BB&N's Eric Olson (Northwestern); Catholic Memorial's Armani Reeves and Cam Williams (Ohio State); and Lawrence Academy's Marcus Grant, who signed with Iowa in February 2011 but has since transferred to Boston College.
The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Hurst chose the Wolverines after having previously made unofficial visits to Virginia, NC State, Duke, North Carolina and Michigan State. He also attended Ohio State's spring game in April.
Hurst, a Canton resident, spoke with ESPNBoston.com Friday night from Ann Arbor to talk about his commitment.
Deciding factors: "The academic support is really great. All of the people in that building are really well put together. They've set up a program for all football players to not only graduate, but also have a job opportunity after football. Another big thing was the strength and conditioning coach [Aaron Wellman], he's a really great guy who knows what he's talking about, just very focused on injury prevention, and just keeping players fresh and healthy for the season.
"Meeting with coach [Brady] Hoke was probably the best part. He's trying to really make things family-oriented. He really cares about all the players as individuals. That was really big for me. It's about the whole package going there."
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."
How he fits into the program: "They're losing lot of guys [on the defensive line] next year, so I'm probably gonna get just the sophomores when I get there to compete for a job. They see me as nose tackle and a 3-technique, moving around on the field. Most of our defense is 4-3 base, and that’s how they run their defense. It's complex, but basically I'll be playing at nose and 3-technique."
On the amount of Bay Staters heading to top-tier Midwestern programs in the past two years (Everett junior offensive tackle John Montelus is also committed to Notre Dame): "It's really great, but I also think it's sad that all of us are from this area and none of us are going to BC. For Massachusetts players, it's kind of something you wouldn’t believe you'd be able to do, going to some of these schools that you see on TV -- Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, all the really big schools no one expects to play for. Even when I walk around campuses, people are like 'Where are you from?' I tell them I'm from Massachusetts and they're like, 'I didn’t know they play football there.'
"I was joking around with Cam [Williams] earlier. ... The trash talk has already started. But seriously, Cam’s just happy for my decision. He really cares about what I wanted to choose, and his dad really cared about helping me find the school that's the right fit for me, so that was just really important. You can't force a school. Someone can tell you to go to this school, but if you're not gonna be happy there, there's no point in picking the school."
What he'll be working on between now and the start of preseason camp in August: "Mostly this offseason I'll probably be working on my quick-twitch fibers, being able to explode, change direction quickly, my hand movements, lower-body strength. Basically being ready to play and compete, and hopefully trying to compete the year after for a position."
On meeting Patriots owner Robert Kraft at the MHSFCA combine last month at Gillette Stadium (his father, Maurice Sr., was a Patriot from 1989 to 1995): "It was a great experience meeting Mr. Kraft and talking to him. He was really nice to me. He's really nice to everyone. He's a really likable guy, all-around great person. ... [There was] kind of a sense of awe, knowing that he’s Mr. Kraft."