Michigan picked up a commitment from 3* CT LB Ben Mason on Tuesday afternoon, which came as a surprise to hardly anyone. After his visit to Ann Arbor last month, crystal balls pegging Mason to Michigan came flooding in. Mason had offers from some solid football programs including Cal, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin, and offers from prestigious academic programs like Columbia, Yale, Dartmouth, Duke, and Harvard. Mason also held scholarship offers from two of the service academies. Boston College offered Mason at linebacker while Don Brown was there, and it comes as no surprised the Michigan DC offered him again at Michigan.
Throwback is a word that I have seen everywhere when it comes to scouting Mason, and when you watch the film, you will see why. On defense, Mason is a thumper. He fills up run lanes quickly and violently. He does a great job of diagnosing plays and rarely false-steps, which can cause a lot of problems for young linebackers. There are a few times where Mason does a fantastic job of reading the quarterback and dropping into the passing lane, causing a turnover. Many of those were returned for touchdowns.
On offense, Mason is all over the field, as he lines up at a traditional in-line tight end spot, more of an H-back position, like Henry Poggi does for Michigan currently, running back, and at quarterback in a wildcat-like formation. He was even split out wide on a play or two, but that looked like it was in a scrimmage. He does a great job of blocking from all of these positions, and runs the ball very well. He does a solid job of reading his blocks and finding the running lanes.
Mason relies on fundamentals and instinct more than high-end athleticism, and that’s evident in his film. His athleticism is good for a high school player, but probably a little average as it concerns FBS power-5 linebackers. He ran a 4.88 laser-timed 40 yard dash, but his straight line speed isn’t why he is being recruited. His ability to diagnose run plays and get into the backfield is what caught Don Brown’s eye, and he does a great job of that, coming from a football family.
As far as what happens when he steps on campus in 2017, Mason is a lot like Michigan commit Chase Lasater with regards to both of them being able to play linebacker or fullback. I think Mason will be given the opportunity to play linebacker, but has a good chance to end up at fullback. And at 6’2.5" & 250 pounds, he could certainly move to defensive end a couple years into his career at Michigan after adding weight.
Mason should be able to come to Ann Arbor in 2017 and compete for playing time at fullback immediately, as there will not be many fullbacks or H-backs on the roster. If he plays linebacker, I think it would be a safe bet that Mason redshirts and plays more in 2018. Or he could play special teams as a true freshman, as we have seen Jim Harbaugh is not afraid to play freshman early on if they are good enough.
I think Mason is a good player with a solid offer sheet, and someone that we can expect to be a solid contributor at Michigan after his redshirt freshman/sophomore season. I do think it is more likely that he redshirts, especially if he ends up playing linebacker. But, with Jim Harbaugh at the helm, you never know what he's going to do.