Mason Graham has only been with Michigan a season, but his name was called time and time again last year and often popped up on film analysis online. Graham was merely a freshman in 2022, but already played like a full grown man.
The story so far
Graham was given a four-star recruit in the 2022 class, ranked as the No. 209 overall player in the nation and No. 25 defensive lineman. Graham received this ranking due in large part to an incredible senior year at Servite in Anaheim, CA where he had 60 tackles (22 for loss) and 14 sacks.
Graham received offers from Pac-12 programs such as Oregon, USC, and Arizona State. Graham was initially committed to Boise State before ultimately committing to Michigan.
Graham made a fast impression within the Michigan program last year. At Big Ten Media Days last July Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh named Graham as a “gift from the football Gods”. From that moment on it was clear Graham would see the field plenty as a true freshman.
With Mazi Smith generating most of the DT duties, Graham didn’t net many starts but came in often as part of a rotation. Graham played in all 14 games last season with two starts at DT. Graham notehced 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Graham did a lot of things that didn’t wind up on the stat sheet. He created disruptions for opposing offensive lines. Graham’s steady campaign earned him Freshman All-American honors by Pro Football Focus.
Michigans development on the DL and their strength program is second to nobody.— BongoBlue2 (@Blue2Bongo) July 3, 2023
Here is true freshman DT Mason Graham throwing 1st round pick Paris Johnson JR like a rag doll with one arm. pic.twitter.com/8vBXX0CimI
Outlook moving forward
With Mazi Smith no longer in the picture and now in the NFL, Graham will be a full-time starter at DT.
“It’s a great challenge,” Graham said this summer. “Obviously, he’s a great player and did a lot of good things when he was here. You saw the result of that — the NFL. Big shoes to fill, but I’m up for it.”
Graham’s expected to be a breakout candidate this fall. He has the ability to be a stout run stopper while also being a great interior pass-rusher. Graham didn’t play like a freshman last season, and he could wind up looking like a seasoned veteran his sophomore campaign.