FEATURE IMAGE: [Michigan C Mason Cole (52) flanks outside to block for RB De’Veon Smith (4) / Photo Credit: MGoBlog/Flickr]
We’re less than 48 hours away from kick off down in South Beach between the Michigan Wolverines and the Florida State Seminoles. The game could very well be decided by the battle in the trenches, and Michigan junior center Mason Cole will be a key cog of that.
Cole, who’s started every game in his Michigan career, shifted over from left tackle to center this season. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound junior could forego his senior year and explore the NFL route. He has reportedly inquired on his stock from an advisory committee. But Cole himself has announced he will return to Michigan in 2017.
Michigan's Mason Cole to come back for senior year: "Best thing for my career and for this football team"https://t.co/Hh7y2R2jZL
— Josh Newkirk (@JoshNewkirk7) December 29, 2016
Cole formally announced his decision Wednesday night at a team dinner.
“I’m coming back,” he said at Fogo de Chao restaurant in South Beach. “It’s a better decision, another year to get stronger to get better.”
“I kind of already made up my mind before I heard back from them,” Cole said, regarding feedback from the NFL Draft advisory committee. “This was the decision my family and I made coach (Jim) Harbaugh and coach (Tim) Drevno and this was the best decision.”
Cole said conversations with head coach Jim Harbaugh helped further make his decision, and another year under his belt at the center position will pay great dividends for him at the professional level.
“All over, getting stronger will help that a lot and technique-wise will help your craft, all across the board,” he said. “Especially, early in the year, it was new to me game-wise but, as the season went on, it got better. You can never be good enough at one thing.”
“I’m only 6-4 1/2,” he said. “I like it a lot. Size, it’s a totally different position, more space than tackle. Just have gotten used to playing inside over the past two years (with spring) now, and I think it’s gone well.”
Cole becomes just the latest Wolverine to announce coming back in 2017. Fellow offensive lineman Maurice Hurst said earlier this month that he was returning for a 5th season, and versatile fullback Khalid Hill made the same decision just one day after Hurst. Cole, much like Hurst and Hill, see what staying for the long haul has done for some of the graduating seniors at Michigan as of late, the ones who will be playing their final collegiate game on Friday in the Orange Bowl.
“It’s just seeing guys like Chris (Wormley) and Jake (Butt) and JD (Jourdan Lewis) have such successful years after deciding to come back and it definitely makes an impact on our decisions to come back for a fifth year,” Hurst said. “It does help having those older guys who stayed. You get to see the success they had by staying.”