I can unequivocally say that compiling a list of the best defensive tackles of the Jim Harbaugh era for the Michigan Wolverines was more difficult than our article earlier this week highlighting the top defensive ends. The gentlemen on the interior certainly don’t have the star power of the Aidan Hutchinson and Rashan Gary’s of the world.
But Michigan has still has some solid beef on the interior since Harbaugh took over in 2015. Here’s who I consider to be the top five:
5. Mazi Smith (2019-Present)
Thrust into action as a true freshman, the youngster out of suburban Grand Rapids impressed immediately at a difficult position to do so. Smith played rotationally as a freshman and sophomore before breaking out during his junior year in 2021.
A two-time Academic All-Big Ten scholar, Smith also cracked the All-Big Ten list as a junior and looks to do even bigger things as a senior this fall.
4. Willie Henry (2015)
Henry has always been criminally underrated in Michigan lore. While he only overlapped with the Harbaugh regime for one year, it was a memorable one. Henry was named honorable mention All-Big Ten while racking up five tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks against Michigan State alone.
He was eventually drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens but has bounced around various NFL practice squads. Most recently, he played for the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL.
3. Bryan Mone (2015-18)
Bryan Mone was the quintessential Big Ten, run-stuffing defensive tackle. The big man was generously listed at 335 pounds and was an immovable object on the interior.
After missing the entire 2015 season due to a leg injury, many doubted his ability to recover. Instead, Mone became a regular on the defensive line, playing consistently from 2016-18.
Mone signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and has somewhat surprisingly stuck with the organization. In April 2021, he signed an exclusive rights free agent tender to remain with the franchise.
2. Ryan Glasgow (2015-16)
If you’re a Michigan fan, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the Glasgow family of walk-ons and the successes they had. The second Glasgow, Ryan, was the most dominant during his time in Ann Arbor.
Glasgow was a two-time All-Big Ten honoree, earning an honorable mention in 2015 and Second-Team honors in 2016. Most notably, he was a semifinalist for the 2015 Burlsworth Trophy, given to the best player who started his career as a walk-on.
Glasgow was drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL during his rookie year and never fully recovered. Glasgow bounced around on various practice squads before retiring from the NFL in Aug. 2021.
1. Maurice Hurst Jr. (2015-17)
Mo was an absolute force on the interior and a fan-favorite. The big man out of Westwood, Massachusetts has a laundry list of accomplishments to his name:
- Consensus All-American
- Bo Schembechler Team MVP and Defensive Player of the Year
- First-Team All-Big Ten
- Four-time Academic All-Big Ten
- The highest single-season Pro Football Focus grade for an interior lineman
- Reese’s Senior Bowl Senior of the Week
I could go on and on about the greatness of Maurice Hurst Jr. Unlike the others on this list, he generated legitimate pressure on the quarterback through the interior time and time again. The fact that a defensive tackle had a signature sack celebration tells you all you need to know.
Honorable Mentions: Carlo Kemp, Chris Hinton