UM's Hurst to play in bowl game; Winovich decision coming
Ann Arbor — Michigan All-American defensive tackle Maurice Hurst will play in his final college game, the Outback Bowl, on New Year’s Day.
Hurst had given careful consideration to whether he should sit out the game and instead begin preparations for the NFL Draft. He is projected by some analysts to be a first-round pick. It is unclear, though, whether defensive end Chase Winovich will be playing his final college game.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday that Hurst will play.
“He wants to do what is best for Mo Hurst and what’s best for the team,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what he expressed.”
Hurst recently said he wasn’t sure what he would do but was keeping a business-as-usual routine practicing with his teammates.
Last year, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and LSU’s Leonard Fournette were among the big-name players who decided not to play in bowl games and instead prepare for the NFL Draft. Former Michigan tight end Jake Butt played in Michigan’s bowl and suffered his second ACL injury, which affected his NFL draft stock.
Hurst, the highest-graded player at any position by Pro Football Focus, was a consensus All-American.
He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and finished the season with 59 tackles, including 13.5 for loss and five sacks.
Winovich is weighing whether to return for his final season or head to the NFL draft.
Harbaugh said he has had conversations with Winovich.
“I think it’s a free-will decision,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll support Chase in whatever he decides to do.”
Harbaugh was asked if that meant Winovich has not yet made a decision.
“I didn’t say that,” he said. “Let him do that (reveal his decision).”