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Class of 2021 Prospect Profiles: Junior Colson

The athletic linebacker is a lifelong Michigan fan with an interesting backstory.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Michigan at Penn State Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Junior Colson

Position: LB

High School: Ravenwood Academy (TN)

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 228 pounds

Ranking: Four-star (.9586 composite), No. 95 overall, No. 5 OLB

Other finalists: Tennessee, Oregon, LSU

Accolades: All-American Bowl, 1st team All-State, High School Butkus and Maxwell Semifinalist

Recruitment

It took many twists and turns in his life for Junior Colson to wind up signing with Michigan. Colson was born in Haiti and lived there until he was 10 years old when he was adopted by a couple living in Tennessee.

Since the mystical Michigan-hating god hadn’t cursed the program at that point, it just so happened Colson’s adoptive mother grew up in Michigan and was a huge Wolverines fan. After trying out soccer, Colson learned he took to football better and quickly became a standout on the gridiron.

Despite trying to keep her allegiances neutral, Colson’s mom took him to a camp in Ann Arbor before his junior season. Only a year away from his position change from wide receiver, Colson performed well enough to gain the attention of Michigan’s coaching staff. He was personally offered by Jim Harbaugh, which stood out to the family.

Following a junior season where he racked up 175 tackles and 14 sacks, Colson’s recruitment went national. Tennessee wanted to keep him in-state, most of his family lived near Texas A&M’s campus, and Oregon and LSU were also at the top of his list.

But Colson’s lifelong affinity with Michigan and his relationship with linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary led him to speed up his recruitment and choose the Wolverines in May, immediately becoming the defensive crown jewel of the class.

Since committing, Colson has been rock-solid to Michigan. Apparently other programs didn’t get the message because he was still a big target for other schools. Tennessee never gave up, and Chris Partridge continued his relationship with Colson while at Ole Miss. He never entertained those pursuits, though, and stood firm as a leader of the class.

Colson has not taken the traditional path of a blue-chip recruit to end up at Michigan, but his life experience has given him the skills to succeed on and off the field.

Stats

Sophomore (9 games): 34 tackles, 6 TFLs, 2 sacks

Junior (15 games): 175 tackles, 30 TFLs, 14 sacks

Senior (9 games): 59 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, 2 FR

Scouting

Maize n Brew scouting report

Pros:

  • Naturally fluid athlete with good change of direction
  • Cuts through traffic well to get to the football
  • Good instincts and awareness in pass coverage

Cons:

  • Can deliver more impact at the point of attack
  • Read steps can be aggressive and away from the play

Colson has an all-around skill set that would allow him to thrive in multiple linebacker roles. He has a long, slender frame that should be able to add up to 20 more pounds without sacrificing his athleticism.

That athleticism is one of Colson’s biggest selling points. He has fluid hips, allowing him to change directions quickly. He trusts his speed and takes good angles to the ball. He is athletic enough to return kicks for his team and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown as a senior.

Against the run, Colson is adept at slicing through blocks, disengaging and getting to the ball quickly. He can be a little too aggressive sometimes, taking hard steps in a direction without the ball. At the point of impact, Colson tends to catch the tacklers rather than bring force and drive them backward. He stays low and has a wide base when tackling, so he could need to develop his strength.

Colson may not be big enough yet to operate solely in between the tackles, but he does best in space. In pass coverage, Colson has good instincts and awareness to read where the quarterback is going. His change of direction allows him to stick to receivers and keep throwing windows small.