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Maurice Hurst opted in December to return for a fifth season at Michigan, and expectations steadily are ratcheting up for the defensive tackle.

His defensive coordinator, Don Brown, says he believes Hurst forms the top of defensive lineman tandem in the country with Rashan Gary. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Hurst the top senior defensive tackle in the country.

Sports Illustrated most recently has chimed in, ranking Hurst at No. 71 among college football’s top 100 players for next season.

SI is counting down the list, unveiling 10 players each weekday until the top 10 is unveiled on June 30. Hurst is the first player from the state of Michigan schools to have his name called.

Hurst had 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season, but should see a bigger role as the Wolverines add plenty of youth to next season’s mix.

“... Hurst spent last season rotating in behind starters Ryan Glasgow and Matt Godin,” Colin Becht of Sports Illustrated wrote, “but with Glasgow and Godin gone, he’ll finally get a chance to dominate on every down. That’s exactly what the Wolverines need, as they return no starters on the entire defensive line and just one starter on the whole defense.

“Given the efficiency with which Hurst compiled his numbers in 2016, there’s no telling what he could put up in a starting role. He and defensive end Rashan Gary should form one of the most lethal end-tackle combos in college football this fall.”