The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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76 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2018   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL's Chad Reuter on Feb. 6 — No. 20 overall to the Detroit Lions "Keeping Hurst in-state will help the Lions pressure QBs from the inte- rior, which is something Detroit has struggled to do since Ndamukong Suh left town." The San Diego Union-Tribune's Ed- die Brown on Feb. 14 — No. 20 over- all to the Detroit Lions "The 'undersized' narrative follow- ing Hurst is similar to the one Aaron Donald dealt with in 2014. Hurst has been close to unblockable at the col- legiate level and could be the miss- ing piece to an up-and-coming Lions defense." CBS Sports' Jared Dubin on Feb. 16 — No. 21 overall to the Buffalo Bills "Hurst is a disruptive force on the interior against both the run and the pass, which will help the Bills main- tain some of the defensive improve- ments they made in 2017." Newsday's Nick Klopsis on Feb. 5 — No. 21 overall to the Buffalo Bills "Hurst is a little on the smaller side at 6-2, 282 pounds, but his style of play is very reminiscent of Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins, two other undersized pass-rushing defensive tackles. He has an excellent first step off the ball and explodes into the backfield. He could slot in at three- technique tackle alongside one-tech- nique Adolphus Washington." USA Today's Nate Davis on Feb. 6 — No. 21 overall to the Buffalo Bills "He's about 6-1 and 285 pounds, so not your traditional interior run stuffer, though neither is pending Buffalo free agent Kyle Williams. However, Hurst's quickness could cast him as a Geno Atkins-type player, which would be helpful on a defense that relies on its front four to create pressure." ESPN's Mel Kiper on Jan. 18 — No. 22 overall to the Buffalo Bills "He's a perfect fit for a 4-3 team, After compiling 61 total stops, 14.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in his final season at Michigan, Hurst is projected to go anywhere between No. 19 and No. 26 overall in the opening round of the NFL Draft April 26‑28. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN Michigan A Top-25 Team In Way-Too-Early Ranks Though it's only February, publications and websites have already begun releas- ing way-too-early top 25 lists for the 2018 college football season. Here's a look at where some of the nation's biggest outlets have placed the Wol- verines heading into next season, ranked from highest to lowest: Athlon — No. 7 Their Take: "Reason for Optimism: If eligible, Ole Miss transfer [junior] Shea Patterson will be a difference-maker at quarterback. Receivers Donovan Peoples- Jones and Tarik Black should be more involved as sophomores, and the backfield is stable with the return of [senior] Karan Higdon and [junior] Chris Evans. The defense will be among the nation's best once again. "Reason for Concern: If Patterson isn't awarded immediate eligibility, will [red- shirt sophomore] Brandon Peters or [redshirt freshman] Dylan McCaffrey step up at quarterback? The offensive line loses tackle Mason Cole and center Patrick Ku- gler. This unit needs to step up if Michigan wants to contend for the Big Ten title." Opponents: Ohio State (No. 3), Wisconsin (No. 8), Michigan State (No. 10), Penn State (No. 11) and Notre Dame (No. 14). The Athletic — No. 11 Their Take: "Jim Harbaugh's team underwhelmed in 2017, but is fairly stocked for next season. Nine starters from a national top-five defense return, including All-Big Ten linemen [junior] Rashan Gary and [fifth-year senior] Chase Winovich and star LB [junior] Devin Bush. "The Wolverines will get a huge boost if Ole Miss transfer QB Shea Patterson is granted an NCAA waiver. If not, Brandon Peters got experience as a [redshirt] freshman. The O-line remains a concern." Opponents: Ohio State (No. 2), Wisconsin (No. 4), Michigan State (No. 7), Penn State (No. 14), Northwestern (No. 20) and Notre Dame (No. 23). ESPN — No. 11 Their Take: "National Signing Day came and went without the Wolverines mak- ing a big splash, as Jim Harbaugh tries to get his program headed back in the right direction. After signing top-10 classes the previous two cycles, Michigan's class was ranked No. 20 this year. But Michigan's move is based on the possibil- ity that Ole Miss QB transfer Shea Patterson will be eligible to play this coming season. … If Patterson starts at quarterback this coming season, the Wolverines might be poised for a big turnaround from last season's five-loss letdown. "Even if it's Brandon Peters or Dylan McCaffrey and not Patterson, Michigan is bringing back enough talent to be a factor in the Big Ten race. The Wolverines are expected to bring back nine of 11 starters on defense, and Chase Winovich, Devin Bush and Rashan Gary were the key parts of a top-five unit in 2017. The Wolverines will play road games at Notre Dame, Northwestern, Michigan State and Ohio State in 2018." Opponents: Ohio State (No. 4), Wisconsin (No. 7), Michigan State (No. 9), Penn State (No. 10) and Notre Dame (No. 21).

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