The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 25 hasn't even missed a practice there. "It says a lot about his durability, his toughness." Durability jumped out as a major plus, but Cole's ability to play mul- tiple positions became another selling point for the Cardinals' management in the decision-making process. "We love his versatility," Keim noted. "He played offensive center … and then, senior year, because of team needs, was unselfish and played left tackle. Again, another guy who fits our DNA." Cole's preference of a position cen- ters on center, like he noted at Michi- gan's pro day. "If I had a choice, I'd choose cen- ter," Cole assured. "But I think I can do them all. Wherever a team needs me to play." That's the same attitude Cole dem- onstrated at Michigan, backing it up by his team-oriented moves. He'll no doubt continue that mindset with his new employer. Cole was actually born in Illinois, growing up as a Chicago Bears sup- porter before he moved to Florida with his family. Now he's all Arizona. "As you get older and this process becomes more real, you start to lose that [fandom] a little bit and you start to care about who's paying the bills," Cole said. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh consistently hailed Cole as one of the best examples of a team player on the Wolverines' roster. One of U-M's two captains in 2018, Cole simply did everything the right way, his coaches and teammates stressed. "He is one of the most versatile of- fensive linemen I've ever been around when you play tackle, start there, then last season moved to center and was one of the best in the conference, and now back to tackle," Harbaugh said. "He can be an outstanding guard as well. Intellect at a high level and abil- ity at the highest level." Arizona head coach Steve Wilks noted the Cardinals organization got that message loud and clear out of Ann Arbor. "I love his toughness, his leader- ship," Wilks said. "During our re- search in talking to a lot of guys I know at the University of Michigan, they stood on a table for this young man. He jumps off at you on film, but again, it's his leadership ability and the DNA that we talk about. "He's smart, he's physically tough, he's gritty, he loves the game, and you can see it on tape." Nobody ever accused Hurst of playing fainthearted football for the Wolverines. A consensus All-Ameri- can in 2017, Hurst won the Bo Schem- bechler Team MVP award, Michigan's Defensive Player of the Year award and consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors by coaches and media. He proved one of the most disrup- tive forces in college football for the Wolverines, recording 61 tackles on the interior defensive line, with five sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. Three quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a blocked kick bolstered the hard numbers. The hard reality arrived when the NFL Combine process revealed an is- sue that may or may not affect Hurst in the long run. Hurst and the Raiders are banking on the fact that it won't. "I don't see it being a problem at all," Hurst noted. "I was a little surprised just because I was cleared through Harvard and Michigan, but every team can't bring you in and do their own tests and formalize their own opinion. I'm just blessed to be a Raider." Oakland head coach Jon Gruden wanted to see Hurst at the Raiders' rookie minicamp, and the former Wolverine said no problem. "I'm ready to go right now," Hurst said. "Just show up to rookie minicamp like everyone else and go through things as anyone else would." Most agree if he remains healthy, Hurst could be the steal of the draft. "If everything works out medically, you got a three-technique that's one of the most productive pass rushers and disrupters in this entire draft," ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. "I had a late first-round grade on him." Gruden called Hurst one of the top two inside rushers in the draft, and stands ready to watch him go to work. ❏ The Oakland Raiders were lauded for getting one of the steals of the draft after grabbing Hurst in the fifth round with the 140th overall selection. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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