WESTWOOD — Forget his name for a moment, and Maurice Hurst’s story is all good. Canton-born, Xaverian-educated, and bound for Michigan, he’s a kid who’s turned out to be one of the best football players in the country. But we did say Maurice Hurst and if that sounds familiar, it should.
Maurice Hurst Jr. — and note the important addition — wants you to know it’s no big deal. There’s still frustration, but nothing his teammates or coaches at Xaverian would ever notice. His father, the former Patriots defensive back, is out of the picture, rarely seeing or even talking to his son. In fact, Maurice Sr. has never seen Maurice Jr. play a single football game, from Pop Warner to Xaverian.
He’s missing a lot.
After finishing at Xaverian, Hurst will play before 100,000-plus fans at the University of Michigan next fall.
“Even when I was little I didn’t really talk about it too much,’’ said Hurst. “I wouldn’t tell people that my dad played in the NFL because they’d think that I had a bunch of money and I was just some rich kid from somewhere so I didn’t tell too many people. Even freshman year, I remember coming here, halfway through the season one of the coaches asked me if that was my dad, and I said, ‘ya, that’s him.’ ’’
When it comes to his dad, Hurst’s mantra is almost cliché — been there, dealt with that, and moving on.
“I don’t really care too much as far as what he’s really doing. It’s just me and my mom, so it doesn’t affect me too much. It’s not something I try and think about a lot.’’
But when he does think about it?
“There’s anger and frustration, just for not being there for me when I was younger or coming to my games or anything.”
Being an athlete
It was a hot July night and the Xaverian players participating in the Metro West 7-on-7 Passing Camp had a problem. They didn’t have a quarterback. And for a passing camp, that’s an issue. Enter 6-foot-2-inch, 285-pound lineman Maurice Hurst Jr. Let Hawks coach Charlie Stevenson tell the rest.
“I didn’t have any quarterbacks show up,’’ said Stevenson, who is entering his 20th year as Xaverian’s coach. “He played quarterback for me. Four touchdown passes against BC High. He had a pick at safety. He was playing cornerback trying to cover guys man to man.
“I think people underestimate the athleticism he possesses. He’s a very good athlete. He’s not just a big kid that’s aggressive. We’ve used him in our offensive backfield on occasion. And he can make plays running the football. In our summer passing league, he’s playing receiver, he’s playing cornerback, he’s playing safety, he’s just having a lot of fun being an athlete. That’s what separates him from a lot of other big guys.’’
And it’s time at the offensive skill positions, and his success, that led Hurst to change his number from 73 — the opposite of his father’s 37 with the Patriots — to No. 11 last year. Taking handoffs, about 20 total last fall, as No. 73 just didn’t feel right.
Nothing shows off athleticism like a 75-yard touchdown run. In the fourth quarter against St. John’s of Shrewsbury last October, Hurst added that to his résumé, a run that still brings an enormous smile to his face.
The call was “power right” and the goals were modest. A first down, maybe more. Seventy-five yards later, Hurst was in the end zone with the Hawks’ longest rushing touchdown of the season. It was his second touchdown of the game, but it wasn’t as easy as the 1-yard TD run he had earlier.
“I was really winded,’’ he said. “I don’t even know what happened. I was just really hyped up and motivated once I got the ball. It’s something that doesn’t happen that often so when you do get it, you kind of want to score. Power right is not really a play meant to score a touchdown. I was kind of shocked.”
Lineman or not, the run attracted the attention of college coaches, even though it had nothing to do with his future job description.
“It’s ironic that the 75-yard touchdown run is really the thing, too,’’ said Stevenson. “We tell all the college coaches he’s a defensive lineman and that’s what they’re recruiting him as, then all these defensive coordinators, this guy from Michigan, Billy McGovern from BC, they come in and sit down and they go, ‘Oh ya, that 75-yard touchdown was unbelievable.’
“Billy McGovern says he ran it back and asked all the guys in the room, ‘Do we have anyone who can do that?’ They go, ‘No.’ Well OK, we’re offering him.’’
BC’s offer was the first of 20 on a list that looked as much like the AP Top 20 poll as it would a teenager’s college choices. Florida, Nebraska, Ohio State, Virginia, Vanderbilt, and North Carolina were just a few of the schools that wanted him. In the end, the choice was Michigan.Continued...