By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
One of the most dominant Massachusetts high school football players of all-time, Maurice Hurst had been looking forward to Sunday, September 7, 2020 ever since the NFL schedule was released last spring.
A native of Canton and the son of former New England Patriots defensive back Maurice Hurst Sr (1989-1995), Hurst followed in his dad's footsteps and was a force on the gridiron at a young age. Ultimately, Hurst found his way to Xaverian, where he became a two-way star at defensive tackle and running back for the Hawks. Twice was he named a Catholic Conference All-Star, in addition to earning All-Scholastic honors as a senior. Hurst's performances on the field and in the classroom earned him a scholarship to play football at the University of Michigan.
After arriving in Ann Arbor in the fall of 2013, Hurst took a redshirt year. The year of learning and training paid off as Hurst developed into one of the best defensive tackles in the country and a four-year letter-winner. From 2014-2017, Hurst recorded 134 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two pass breakups, and one blocked field goal. As a fifth-year senior in 2017, Hurst was named a consensus All-American, First-Team All-Big 10 as well as being named team MVP and defensive player of the year.
A player with such accolades would normally be an early-round pick in the NFL Draft. Unfortunately, a heart condition discovered just weeks before the 2017 NFL Draft damaged Hurst's stock. He fell to the fifth-round and was selected by the then-Oakland Raiders.
Three years and seven-and-a-half career sacks later, Hurst has worked his way up the depth chart and become a key part of the Raiders front-seven. Hurst is currently in the third season of his four-year, $2.779-million rookie deal.
On Sunday, Hurst made his return home as the Raiders traveled to Gillette Stadium to play against the Patriots. It wasn't the homecoming that Hurst had hoped for, as big games from Rex Burkhead (seven receptions, 49 yards, one touchdown, six carries, two touchdowns) and Sony Michel (nine carries, 117 yards) led the Pats to a 36-20 win. Fans not being allowed inside the stadium due to COVID also put a bit of a damper on the afternoon for Hurst, as all of his friends and family couldn't attend the game. Still, it was a productive day for Hurst in the trenches, as the former Hawk and Wolverine registered five solo tackles (six total), one tackle-for-loss and one quarterback hit.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his own personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.