Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. has a long future of football ahead of him, but next on his plate is the Michigan football team’s bowl game.

Whether or not Hurst will play in that game, though, is still up in the air.

Hurst, who projects to be a high first-round NFL Draft pick, spoke to media Thursday afternoon and said that he has not yet decided whether he will play in the bowl game.

“I’m not really sure. Right now, it’s just business as usual,” Hurst said. “I haven’t made a decision.”

The risk of playing in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 relates to injuries.

Last year, Michigan’s senior tight end Jake Butt tore his ACL in the Orange Bowl. Butt was drafted by the Denver Broncos with the first pick of the fifth round, No. 145 overall, but could have likely been picked much higher — and earned a significantly higher pay check — had he not been injured.

Butt spoke before the Orange Bowl and said that he fully understood and respected the decision of players like Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, who chose not to play in a bowl game to avoid the risk of injury.

Nonetheless, Butt decided to play and unfortunately faced a devastating outcome.

“Being there,” Hurst said, “and seeing (Butt) go down, it was heart wrenching to see the emotion on his face.”

Hurst, now in the same position that Butt was in a year ago, contemplates the same decision.

He said that he’s going to be talking with his family, coach Jim Harbaugh, Butt and guys like former defensive end Chris Wormley — who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens.

Hurst hopes to have the decision finalized sometime in the next two weeks.

Pro Football Focus added Hurst to its All-American First Team for defense, and rated him as the top-graded player in the country for both sides of the ball.

His talent is obvious, and his stats back it all up. He has contributed 132 tackles, 33 tackles for loss and 13 sacks over the course of his Michigan career, and was a consensus first team All-Big Ten honoree by both the coaches and media.

One of the only things not on Hurst’s resume is an NFL contract.

But that really will come, regardless of his decision about the upcoming bowl game.

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