Hurst gives Harbaugh favorable report on young Wolverines

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Appropriate for a visit from AS Roma, Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. tries kicking on Monday.

Ann Arbor – Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh can’t keep close watch on summer conditioning, so he peppered senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst with questions, rattling off names of several of the younger players.

Hurst had just finished participating in a skills competition Monday afternoon with the AS Roma team, which hosted Michigan’s final spring practice last April in Rome.

“They’ve been good,” Hurst told Harbaugh.

Later, Hurst told reporters he thinks highly of the younger players and sees a “change in the culture.”

“I think they’re really talented,” he said. “It’s really exciting to see a lot of the younger guys come in and be so advanced and so ready to play early on, because I remember a lot of guys when I came in weren’t really ready right way, a lot of redshirts and stuff like that.

“It’s a lot different now. I feel like a lot of the guys have been ready to compete right when they got here. I think it’s definitely a change in the culture and something that’s going to be good for us down the road.”

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Hurst, who wouldn’t single-out players, said he sees a difference in the way the younger players are preparing.

“Just the way they handle their business,” Hurst said. “They’re always ready to work to become better, and you kind of can tell a lot with people who are able to pick up the playbook easier. Those guys are always going to be able to play early because they can remember a lot of things and retain things quickly. That’s one of the good things you can see in a lot of the young guys – that they’re studying and they’re trying to get all the plays down that they can right now before fall camp starts.”

He was asked specifically about defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon and Hurst said he will be a contributor.

“Physically, he’s really impressive,” Hurst said of the 6-3, 300-pound Solomon. “He’s definitely someone who could help us this year. He’s a big, strong kid. He moves really well. I think he’ll be able to make an impact soon.”

Hurst said the trip to Rome was a highlight, offseason workouts have gone well, and the interaction with the AS Roma team on Monday was enjoyable. But he’s ready to move on to preseason camp, which begins July 31.

“It’s been a lot of fun, but at the same time, it will be fun to get the pads back on and get after it again,” he said. “We kind of have a little bitter taste in our mouth from our last game (loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl). It will feel good to get that taste out after the first game. That’s something we’re looking forward to – and looking forward to that challenge on Sept. 2 (against Florida in the opener).”