Updated: Feb 27, 2021
On Friday July 3, the QB Velocity team was fortunate enough to interview Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr.!
Hurst was a consensus all American at the University of Michigan and first team all big ten. He was also born and raised in Canton Massachusetts, and was a star at Xaverian Brothers High School.
Hurst was considered a steal in the NFL draft when he was selected by the Raiders In the fifth round, he is a great player now but we know the best has yet to come!
First things first, what made you start playing Football?
Growing up, Football is something we just did. My Mother was the cheerleading coach for our Football team. I grew up with my cousins mostly, most of them played football. My Father played football, but I never really had a relationship with him. It was something that was a part of my family, part of who we were. My Mom was actually a cheerleader for the Patriots too, she’s always had this love for the game. It is something that is a big part of our life and our family culture...
Do you think playing other Sports helped you as a Football player?
I think so, the biggest thing for me was just the competitive nature. Not being the most naturally gifted Basketball player, but just learning to adapt and how to compete. That's the biggest thing, that’s where you get the biggest competition level.
Growing up in Massachusetts your football level is not going to be the highest. But if you play other sports like Basketball, Lacrosse, and Hockey, you get to see what it’s really like to work for it, not just having everything given to you. If guys have it easy in High School, they don’t always think they have to work hard. But if you see where that work comes from, if you are not as good at something, you need to work hard to get better. That is a big thing athletes need to realize.
What made you want to go to Xaverian Brothers High School?
I was thinking about going to Stoughton High, and I ended up applying to Xaverian. Money was really tight, and my mom said you can apply but I don’t think you’ll be able to go. I ended up applying and got into the school. We found a way to make it work. We were waiting on scholarships to see if I could go and I ended up getting them. Obviously, I had to do work, study, and all that, I was kind of lucky to get in.
The thing for me was just having a little bit of hope, I knew no one had hopes for the NFL from Canton High or Stoughton High. I just remember knowing about Xaverian, having Matt Hasselbeck and some of the guys they have sent to Boston College and stuff like that. I just wanted to have the opportunity to play at a Division I school, whether it was UNH, UMass or a big school. At first, I did not have my sights set on going to a big school.”
What advice do you have for kids about the recruiting process?
Really just work, work really hard, get in the best shape possible so you can play at the highest level possible. Play hard all the time, so the coaches come find you. Camps are really good, but I only went to two camps... All in all, I'd say working hard and hitting the weight room hard. Hit your core and work on your running form and flexibility, just try and be in the best shape of your life come Football season. College Career
What made you choose Michigan?
I think it was because of the history of the school. Just how good of a school it was, coming from Xaverian I really like the balance of sports and academics. Once I got to Michigan it felt sort of like an extension. Just all the great history and great players. The alumni base and the attitude towards Michigan was such a prestigious feeling. Like if you say you go to the University of Michigan someone always knows someone from the University of Michigan... There’s a lot of smart people to come from the University of Michigan, that is not something you can say about every school that is good at Football.
Was there an initial shock for you as a freshman on the team? What advice would you tell athletes who are new to college?
Yes, right when you get on campus, the workouts are the first thing you're doing. Me and all my friends were dead, I couldn’t even make it through a workout when I got there. Certain things weren’t strong enough, my hamstrings and my hips. Those hamstring curls were super hard for me, I couldn’t do it but not doubting yourself and keep on working until you get to a point where you can do all that stuff. Initially, I was worried I wouldn’t keep up with all these guys, but it all changed in the past month and you realize the guys in the weight room are the strongest but may not be the best on the field. It put it in perspective that at the end of the day you are playing football and I can play just as well as anyone.
What was it like when Jim Harbaugh was hired for Michigan? Also, I need to hear your best Jim Harbaugh story.
So, when he was hired, it was really exciting for me to have an NFL coach come in as well as a guy who has been to the Super Bowl and who has put a lot of guys in the league and bringing in a staff of guys who were very respectable. He made it all football, we had 4-hour spring ball practices and we were trying to get better at football anyway possible by playing the game. He had a lot of passion for the game and put in a lot of NFL type schemes and things like that, which really helped. Understanding concepts and what type of run game you were going to get at the next level which was really good.
The Harbaugh story, right when he got there one of our running backs Chris Evans was running a wheel route, and this was the first week with our pads on. He runs the wheel route and he goes “No no no, I don’t want it that way!” So his cap and cleats are on when he goes to practice, so he lines up and he starts to run a wheel route and you see him get shot in the back of the leg and he tore his hammy really really bad.
He tried to play it off and he was walking around limping, and for the rest of the season he had to wear compression shorts and wouldn’t get treatment on it so it got worse. I think his hamstring is still messed up to this day. Trying to run that wheel route full speed really got his hammy messed up and it was all black and blue and everything. That was my first impressions of Harbaugh was him trying to run that wheel route during practice.”
What made you do a graduate year?
For me, a lot of it was talking to my coach, Greg Madison. We talked a lot about legacy. I had teams that were interested in me coming out and I think I would have got drafted in the first three rounds, but he talked about the legacy of playing and a lot of our guys were coming back. So, we had Chris Wormley, who could have left early, and we had a few other guys that could have left early but came back.
He then talked about Michigan Legacy and imprinting yourself into the program because that’s going to last forever. That was a big thing for me, leaving my mark on the University of Michigan.
You were supposed to be a top selection, obviously you couldn’t go to the combine due to something you could not control, how did you deal with that?
I mean it’s devastating, I had something like that happen to me at Xaverian. When I fractured my back, I wasn’t really sure if I was going to play anymore. After that happened, it had put into perspective, you can only control what you could control. Just trying to keep my head up and trying to be as positive as possible. At the time I definitely hit a dark place and it is tough to cope with the idea of not playing the game, especially when it’s out of your control. It definitely gets your hopes up, I was training for months at the combine, the shuttle, the broad jump, and stuff like that.
Then getting to the point to where you’re not sure if you’re going to get drafted or when you are going to get drafted. It can be really stressful, within that span of the draft. Obviously, it was really hard to go through, but as long as you can get through it, you can become stronger through those tough times.
Did you have a welcome to the NFL moment?
Going through pre-season and getting sacks, I thought, “Wow this is going to be easy!” Bruce Irvin or one of those guys, was like, “Yeah the pre-season and regular season are completely different animals.” I remember going out the first game and everything moving really fast. We had played the Rams the first game, so that was the first team. I mean they were good that year, they were running the ball all over, left, right.
They were running press plays, that can be real tough for a young defensive lineman, because the offensive lineman are running and reaching each and every way. I mean if you are sitting back and reading it’s going to look really bad on film. I mean it’s tough to play those types of teams and play action, I mean I wasn’t ready to read and play against play action. That's probably one of the toughest games we ever played in, we actually had two of our guys go down, I was just in the game, and we didn’t have a backup, it was just me. In the first quarter one of our nose tackles went out and the second quarter one of our other defensive tackles rolled his ankle and I was just out there and everything as moving a million miles per hour.
It was definitely a wakeup call for me. That was definitely my welcome to the NFL moment, playing a team that was going to the Super Bowl and just struggling to read the offense.
The first year of Jon Gruden it looked like a disaster in the making, but the Raiders seem to be way ahead of schedule, you guys were a good team last year, what was your initial thought when Mack and Cooper were traded? Did you think Jon Gruden is out of his mind at any point?
Yeah, I mean I was excited to play with Khalil, because he’s a perennial talent. Just to have the opportunity to learn from him, and then he got trade. It was kind of like, you look at the roster and you kind of know hey the talent is not there, we don’t have the guys to play against some of these teams. It’s tough when you are in that position and you see things are not in your favor talent wise and you don’t have the guys to win. That year was tough for me, just losing so many games and it felt like the season was kind of dragged on and you know, it’s not as fun. It was pretty tough.
Once you see Amari go you know the coaches don’t see it either, they know that this season is kind of chalked up and it’s about getting the younger guys better. So, after making the trade, once we hit the draft it was like oh wow this was a good trade. It wasn’t until this past season when the Bears didn’t look so hot, well I think they (Raiders) won the trade. You see Josh Jacobs start playing well, Renfrow, Maxx your 4th round pick playing lights out, you see all those guys balling and it’s hard to say we lost the trade. We got so much talent and our first pick didn’t even play, Jon Abrams.
Just to see the progress we’ve made and the talent on the roster now is ridiculous. From top to bottom, we are in a good place cap wise, being able to bring in Corey Littleton and Kwiatkoski. We brought in some stud linebackers and Damarious Randall, a former first round pick. Drafting a few receivers like Ruggs and them were huge too. We were able to keep one of our best guards and we have enough money to do those types of things. I think we are one of the top teams in the league right now in terms of talent base. It's tough to compete against the Chiefs though.
Do you have any plans for after football yet? Do you plan on doing something around sport management?
I’m really into finance and that type of stuff, like finance and investing specifically. I definitely want to carry on a career after football but I’ve also thought about if the opportunity arises potentially being a GM or going with the agent route. Being a GM I’d be able to work with numbers which would be fun for me, trying to develop a team and develop men. That’d be a great thing I would want to do, you get a good sense of people, teamwork, and comradery and I’d just try to bring in the right coaches to win so that’s something I’d definitely be interested in. I enjoy the game and the people, being a coach would be tough because their schedules are packed, but I would enjoy overseeing a franchise and it’s something I’d have more fun with.
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