Hello: Ben Mason

Submitted by Ace on May 3rd, 2016 at 6:39 PM


This poor kid. [Photo: Danbury News-Times]

In a ceremony where the decor took away what little suspense there may have been heading into the announcement, three-star Newtown (CT) Sandy Hook ILB/FB Ben Mason committed to Michigan. Mason picked up a scholarship offer while on an unofficial visit in April, and a subsequent offer from Wisconsin didn't sway him from the Wolverines.

Mason projects to either inside linebacker or fullback at the next level; after his Michigan visit, he told TMI's Brice Marich he was open to either:

“(My parents) loved the college town feel of Ann Arbor and impressed with the academics. They also loved the opportunity I have defensively at linebacker or offensively at fullback with Coach Wheatley. I just want to play football. I really don’t care what position.”

Mason and Chase Lasater give Michigan two ILB/FB types in the class. Of the pair, Mason seems more likely to stick on defense—it's worth noting Don Brown saw fit to offer him when Brown was at Boston College. Michigan now has 12 commits in the 2017 class, including another linebacker prospect in four-star Josh Ross.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, #32 ILB 3* ILB NR OLB 3*, 85, #28 ILB,
#765 Ovr
3*, #35 ILB,
#883 Ovr

Mason is a middle-of-the-pack three-star to Scout and 247, while Rivals hasn't given him a position ranking and ESPN hasn't bothered to scout him at all. Mason plays two positions that don't generate many four-star prospects (ILB and FB) and he comes from a state that doesn't produce much in the way of football talent; he's likely to stay a three-star.

Mason's size has some suggesting he could grow into a defensive end role down the road. 247 has the most updated figures: Mason checked in a 6'2.5", 247 pounds at last weekend's Opening regional. That's big enough to step in immediately at either inside linebacker or fullback.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the commitment post.]

SCOUTING

Scout has a full evaluation posted to Mason's profile:

Evaluation

Mason brings versatility because he can play middle linebacker, or add weight and move to defensive end. He could also shed some weight and play outside linebacker. But his best spot is middle linebacker because he reads plays quickly and can accelerate to the ball carrier. He is built to be a run stopper. He needs to improve his acceleration at the start of a play, but he possesses closing speed. He moves his feet properly when dropping into pass coverage, where he is comfortable. Mason reads his keys and can get through the gaps to blitz. He is rugged and strong. -- Brian Dohn

Strengths

  • Athleticism
  • Blitzing Ability
  • Closing Speed
  • Run Stopping
  • Size
  • Strength

Areas to Improve

  • Agility
  • Change of Direction
  • Foot Quickness
  • Speed

Having "athleticism" as a strength with the weaknesses listed makes little sense; the tape backs up that Mason isn't particularly fast or quick, but he closes on runners in a hurry because of short-range acceleration and quick reads. If he sticks on defense, it's going to be as a MIKE, where his run-stopping ability can be put to good use without exposing him too much in coverage.

The other scouting report out there on Mason comes from last weekend, when 247 named him the #2 defensive performer at the Opening regional in New Jersey:

Sandy Hook (Conn.) Newton linebacker Ben Mason won MVP honors for his position group, doing well in drills, the Cat and Mouse setting and also moving well in coverage in 1-on-1s and 7-on-7s. It’s easy to call the 6-foot-2 ½, 247-pound Mason a throwback, and one wouldn’t think this would be a setting he’d shine in, but Mason did his thing and left with hardware.

That performance provides hope that Mason can hold up against the pass. Stout, run-stuffing MIKE-types don't tend to do well in camp settings.

Mason has a solid football pedigree. His father, Bob Mason, was a D-III All-American defensive end at Ithaca in the mid-80s who got a quick look in the NFL; the family has regular film sessions:

“After every game we watch film together and go over what I’ve done wrong so I can correct it for the next game,” Mason said. “He gives me a lot of feedback.”

All Patriot fans, the three have spent countless hours watching college and pro football together over the years.

“It’s literally all we ever do on weekends,” Mason said. “We’re always hanging out watching football. The best advice he’s ever given me is just play as hard as I can because that’s really all you can do.”

If Mason doesn't stay on defense, he should be a very physical, coachable guy at fullback, and he could be more than just a blocker: he had an increased role in the offense as a junior and showed potential as both a short-yardage runner and receiver out of the backfield.

OFFERS

Mason holds offers from Army, Boston College, Cal, Columbia, UConn, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Kansas, UMass, Navy, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Wisconsin, and Yale. While that list lacks high-end football powers, it's great to see so many Ivy League schools and a couple service academies; academics shouldn't be a worry here.

HIGH SCHOOL

Connecticut isn't known as a major football state, and Newtown isn't much of an exception; according to the Rivals database, Mason is the first three-star to come out of the program. Newtown fell in the semifinals of last year's state playoffs.

STATS

Mason has been a remarkably productive high school player. He had 113 tackles (66 solo) with 11 TFLs, four sacks, and four interceptions (three returned for TDs) at linebacker in 2015, adding 231 yards on 43 rushes (5.4 YPC) and 416 yards on 24 receptions (16.2 YPC) with 15 combined offensive touchdowns.

As a sophomore, Mason tallied 110 tackles (76 solo) with 6.0 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, an interception, and a fumble return for a score.

FAKE 40 TIME

Mason recorded a 4.88 electronic-timed 40-yard dash, which gets zero FAKEs. As mentioned above, he doesn't have great straight-line speed.

VIDEO

Junior highlights:

Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Mason is the type of player who Harbaugh will happily deploy on both sides of the ball by the time he's done at Michigan. He could be a day-one starter at fullback, as Khalid Hill, Henry Poggi, and Bobby Henderson all are set to depart after this season. In that case, Mason, Chase Lasater, and a walk-on or two—most likely current junior Nate Volk—will compete for snaps.

Down the road, Mason can also compete at inside linebacker, where there's also set to be a lot of competition for open starting spots in the next couple seasons. His first opportunity to crack the two-deep should come after Mike McCray graduates following the 2018 season.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan is definitely set at fullback, and with three players capable of playing inside linebacker in the class (Mason, Lasater, and Ross), that position group may be settled as well. M is up to 12 commits in a class that the coaching staff apparently expects to reach the mid-to-high 20s. Top priorities going forward include outside receiver, tight end, and linemen on both sides of the ball.

Here's the 2017 class as it currently stands: 

Comments

bacon

May 3rd, 2016 at 6:47 PM ^

Normally, I'm sure it's odd for teams to recruit 2 FBs in one class, but given how much Kerridge and Houma played last year, I think it makes sense.

BrownJuggernaut

May 3rd, 2016 at 6:47 PM ^

Good to see another kid from New England Go Blue. I feel like Mason is the type of kid that Harbaugh had Stanford and made Stanford what it is today. I know that some are going to wonder about recruiting rankings, but I'm a bit more nonchalant about them, considering the type of team Harbaugh is building.

MChem83

May 3rd, 2016 at 7:32 PM ^

do we have no hope of finding anyone better than him to fill that slot any time between now and signing day?  If we don't, then it doesn't say much for Harbaugh's recruiting skill.  Or for our chances of competing on a level playing field with OSU any time before he bolts back to the NFL.

WolvinLA2

May 3rd, 2016 at 7:12 PM ^

Of course.  You can always hold out for something better.  I could  have held out for a better wife, but that doesn't mean I would have found one.  I could have held out for a better job, same story.  

This is a kid who is a) willing to play FB, and b) is a pretty accomplished (not to mention big, strong) football player.  He was the LB MVP at a pretty major camp and the second best defender overall.  That says a lot considering this kid's biggest assets all include hitting people and at camps you don't do that.  I like this kid a lot on offense and quite possibly as a WDE if he puts on a little more (but not a ton more) weight.

Albatross

May 3rd, 2016 at 8:20 PM ^

that Michigan can't land a better prospect than what appears to be a Ivy League level talent? Wow. Just wow.

Nothing against the kid, but to accept this level of recruiting and I don't only mean Mason but the overall composition of our 2017 class is to admit that we have become a second rate program that really can't complete for recruits with OSU, ND, Bama or any other elite program.

Meterocrity begins at the top and that means being a good enough recruiter to take on and beat out the big boys in recruiting. If we don't do that, we have little hope of surplanting OSU anytime soon.For all the good things Harbaugh brings to the table, his recruiting leaves a lot to be desired.

Albatross

May 3rd, 2016 at 8:53 PM ^

then you might not be all the bright.

The 2016 class was built off of Partridge's considerable infulence in NJ. We also got a few FL recruits by giving their coach a job. I know we suppose to bury our heads in the sand and act like that is all a coincidence. It looks like Partridge's pull in NJ is beginning to wane, and Bush Sr. probably won't deliver any 5-stars from his former program. So what does that leave us? It leaves us with needing Harbaugh to step to the plate and outrecruit Urban. And he is lagging way behind.

Of the commits UM has for 2017 a total of 1 holds an OSU offer. By comparison 7 of their recruits hold a Michigan offer, including one from Ann Arbor.

Now you tell me, who is winning the recruiting battle? It is OSU in a landslide. Our recruiting is so great that we can't even be named as a leader for a 5-star WR that play 30 minutes away from campus, for a Michigan alumni and is a son of an alumni.

Blazefire

May 3rd, 2016 at 10:06 PM ^

This is absolutely hilarious and if you don't know why then you might not be too bright.

You're the asshole in the office who thinks he's contributing by saying, "We should do it better" when he has no idea how the hell it was done in the first place.

Insult kids on your own forum sir.

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evenyoubrutus

May 3rd, 2016 at 10:40 PM ^

And I don't like to say it, but despite Harbaugh being a big name, Michigan has not been a national powerhouse for the better part of ten seasons, and we didn't really win anything of significance last year. In that type of situation it's not easy to just come in and recruit a dozen top 100 players or more a year without some extra help. If Michigan has a special season this year like we expect, the recruiting will take care of itself going forward.