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February 12, 2013Michigan defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery has spent his first two years stitching lines together without much depth. He smiles now at the thought of the players he'll have to coach over the next four or five years, including a trio of '13s with great potential.
Defensive end Taco Charlton (6-6, 249, Pickerington (Ohio) Central), tackle Maurice Hurst, Jr. (6-2, 305, Westwood (Mass.) Xaverian Brothers) and versatile lineman Henry Poggi (6-4, 260, Baltimore (Md.) Gilman School) all have great potential, defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery said following Signing Day. Poggi is the highest rated (Rivals.com's No. 70 player overall nationally), but the others' ceilings might be just as high.
Hurst Jr. gets knocked for his lack of elite size, but he's bigger than some great, past Michigan nose tackles, head coach Brady Hoke said.
He's not that small anyway, Montgomery added.
"He's got good size," he said. "When they say he's not the biggest, he's not 5-11. He's 6-1, 6-2 at 285 pounds and he's a great athlete. He's right there.
"He's going to be really good for us. He's a fast twitch guy. One thing you look for in recruiting is foot quickness, because with what we ask kids to do, you've got to be able to move your feet laterally, things like that, and he's definitely a guy who can do that."
Hurst played running back at Xaverian and notched 13.5 tackles for loss on the other side of the ball. He'll be a nose tackle or "inside guy," Montgomery said.
"Everything he does - he's always around the football when he's on the defensive line, and as a tailback he's either running a guy over or making a guy miss," he said. "That's pretty impressive. He moves well. He'll make a guy or two miss, but occasionally he likes to run over guys."
Michigan fans waited in angst after reports surfaced that Poggi planned (and took) a visit to Alabama. There was no such concern at Schembechler Hall, Montgomery insisted.
"He was coming the whole time," Montgomery said with a smile. "He's a great kid; he's a great fit here at Michigan with the kids we have coming in. He'll be a great Michigan man. We love everything about him and his family - his mom Amy - they are great people.
"Sometimes media plays in a bit to what's going on but really don't know the details of what's happening. We did, so there were no worries here. I talked to the kid two or three times a week, sometimes a couple times a day."
Poggi is another high motor guy who performed well at the Under Armour All-America Game and was coached well by his father, Biff, Montgomery said.
"That's going to help. He'd come down and watch bowl practice, and his dad got a notepad and took notes on how we taught things so he could get him started before he gets here," Montgomery recalled. "That just goes to show you the kid is ready to come in, wants to compete early, all those things. I love the way he goes about doing his business.
"He runs well, he's physical and he's always around the football. He does his job. He's not a guy that is flying up field; he does what he is taught to do. I definitely see him starting off as a five technique (outside), but he may be a guy who can outgrow that down the road."
Charlton, meanwhile, will start off at the rush position. His freakish athleticism could help him become an outstanding pass rusher, and he's getting a head start by having enrolled early.
"You've got to take great athletes, and that's what he is," Montgomery said. "He's a phenomenal athlete who has been a basketball player most of his life. The kid has dedicated himself to the weight room. He's 270 pounds right now and he looks great. He can run like a deer, is athletic and we're going to teach him to put his hat and hands on people.
"To go into Columbus and get that kid, that's something. He's going to be a big time player for us. I think the sky is the limit weight wise. He'll easily be a 280-pound kid with 10 percent body fat. That's what type of build he has. He put up good strength numbers right away, is working his tail off, competing, learning and watching the older guys. He's picking it up. We're pleased with all the guys here right now."
They'll be even more impressed in a few years, he predicted.
"You never know until everybody gets here, you get them developed and you teach them what you want to teach them, show them how you want things done," he said. "Once they get here and they do all those things, it's going to be a pretty good deal."