Defensive Line Update: March 29

Defensive line coach Clint Hurtt is excited about his group of linemen and took time to talk about who is doing well this spring, who is poised for a breakout season, and who is a surprise.

"They are not as experienced as some of the guys we have had in the past," Hurtt said. "They are younger kids and they don't have a lot of experience, but they are working hard."

Hurtt is in his first year as the head defensive line coach and is enjoying his experience.

"I love it," he said. "It is a learning experience and I am having a lot of fun."


• DE Calais Campbell, who could be a first-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, has his eyes set on the UM single season sack record of 17, set by Daniel Stubbs in 1986. Campbell recorded 10.5 last season. Hurtt believes Campbell must improve on his consistency and his fundamentals to take his game to the next level.

• DE Eric Moncur is expected to have a breakout season in 2007. Moncur has matured on and off the field and is now focused on being more consistent. Moncur's goals for this season include having a better season than Campbell's '06 campaign which included 20.5 tackles for a loss as well as the 10.5 sacks. Hurtt believes Moncur will achieve those goals.

"I think (Moncur) is making steps going into his junior year like Calais made coming into last season. He's the most explosive guy that we have on the defensive line, but now we have to get his playmaking to match his ability. For me, if he is doing it in practice, he will do it in the game."

• Hurtt thinks Campbell and Moncur will be one of the best duos in the country: " I think (Moncur) can be right there with Calais as two of the best defensive ends in the country, I really, really do. He does some scary things out there."

• DT Antonio Dixon is looking to start at left defensive tackle alongside senior Teraz McCray. Dixon has played in 19 games, but last year's Boston College game was really his only extensive playing time he has received in a game. He's still learning and maturing as well as understanding the conditioning side of the game.

• DT Teraz McCray is taking more of a leadership role this season as a senior. McCray is benefitting from playing next to Campbell on his right and Dixon on his left. Dixon clogs a lot of the holes up, which allows McCray to run free.

• DE Courtney Harris was in a little bit of a funk this spring, but is coming out of it. Harris is expected to the third defensive end in the rotation and what makes him such a valuable asset is his ability to play right or left defensive end with equal production.

"Courtney is taking the next step to be a damn good football player. If Courtney keeps progressing, I really don't expect a dropoff if Courtney goes in for Calais or Eric.

Richard Gordon is playing defensive end this spring and will not be a defensive tackle in the near future unless depth becomes an issue. He's still learning and maturing as well.

• DT Josh Holmes has been a bright spot amongst the younger linemen. Holmes is a 6-foot-2, 270-pound redshirt freshman from San Diego.

"Josh Holmes shows me a lot of positive things," Hurtt said. "He's not the biggest tackle and is not the most physically imposing player, but he has a lot of quickness to him and plays with a lot of violence and is a very active kid. He has a great motor and a high football IQ. He is a very smart football player, who will not make the same mistake twice. He has a shot to be a good player here."

• DT Dwayne Hendricks is a good run-stopper, but is still working on his pass-rushing skills. Hendricks could find himself in the tackle rotation as he is in a battle with Joe Joseph and Luqman Abdallah.

• DT Chaz Washington and DE Steven Wesley are two young players that are still maturing on and off the field and do not appear to be in the immediate future for UM. They will likely be used primarily on scout team this fall unless things change.

Christopher Stock can be reached at

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