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Pro Football Focus grades Maurice Hurst at the top

Hurst earned the highest grade of any college player, according to Pro Football Focus.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Despite not winning the Big Ten Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year last week, Maurice Hurst was given high praise Wednesday for his outstanding season.

According to the Pro Football Focus system, Hurst graded out higher than any college football player this season at 96.9.

We caught up with analyst Josh Liskiewitz from Pro Football Focus earlier this week to ask him about Hurst and why he graded so high.

"He graded so well because he consistently destroyed blockers, both against the run and pass. He had 45 total QB pressures, the 2nd most for a defensive tackle this year was 36,” Liskiewitz said.

"He also ranked eighth in the country in our run stop percentage metric, demonstrating how dominant he was against the run as well. He essentially held the highest defensive grade in the country wire-to-wire from September through the end of the regular season."

Josh also added what he needs to develop to be a successful NFL player. "The NFL has to love the fact he played nose tackle this year. They'll see him as being most valuable in a 4-3 scheme as a 3-tech (McCoy's career-long position with TB), but he's shown he can use his (limited) size to his advantage in terms of being able to win at the snap and establish leverage. He'll want to finish at the QB more consistently, and cut down on penalties, but we haven't seen a player at his position at his caliber since Aaron Donald."

Along with this honor, Hurst was also named to the PFF All-American first team on defense after an impressive season with plenty of belly rubs.

He ended the regular season with 58 tackles (32 assist, 26 solo), 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He has accumulated 129 tackles (63 assists, 66 solo), 32 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks during his four-year career with the Wolverines.

It's clear that he was a force on defense, and it paid off with an invitation to the Reese's Senior Bowl, which is played just before the NFL Combine. He also finishes his Michigan career as a four-time Academic All-Big Ten student athlete.