The Michigan Wolverines may be flexing their muscle on their Midwest stomping grounds, but they are still working hard to exhibit their prowess on the national scene as well. That much was evident early in the recruiting cycle for 2014 when the first offer for the class was extended to Salt Lake City (UT) Highland DT, Bryan Mone. A former high school teammate and close family friend of Michigan freshman Sione Houma, Mone was finally able to make it to Ann Arbor for his first up close view of the Maize & Blue and came away extremely impressed.
“It’s crazy,” Mone said after witnessing the Wolverines’ thrilling 38-31 victory. “It’s a long way from home, but it’s nice. Really nice! It was a really good experience. First time I’ve ever been on the east side. The weather was beautiful because in Utah it was snowing, so (Michigan) was really nice. It was really good. I loved it.”
Saturday’s nail-biter featured an uncharacteristic performance by a defense that had held each prior Big Ten opponent under their scoring average by a tangible amount. Even so, the Wolverine defenders held together and in the end made big plays with the game on the line. That feat left an indelible mark on Mone.
“They played with trust,” he said. “They play like brothers and were trusting one another. The defense was solid. The defensive line… I saw them in pre-game warm-ups and their drills were just amazing. I loved it.”
Before and especially after the game the Michigan coaching staff made it a priority to let Mone know they want him to be a part of that line’s future.
“I talked to Coach Montgomery, Coach Hoke… all the coaches were showing me love,” he stated. “It was really cool. Coach Hoke told me the top thing about being a Michigan player is your character. He was just talking about how you should act and what you should be like. Coach Montgomery is humble guy, really nice, and just really cool to be with. I like them a lot.”
That his good friend Houma speaks highly of the brass in Ann Arbor only serves to enhance that positive impression. As a matter of fact Houma’s mere presence enhances his view of Michigan altogether.
“Wow… when I saw (Houma) I just wanted to give him a big kiss,” Mone said laughingly. “He is loving it (at Michigan) so far. It just feels like home to me.”
That’s great news for a team that was one of this talented youngster’s earliest offers, but stood out as his most distant suitor. When recruiting first began Mone made no bones about proximity being a factor.
“No,” he replied.
What about Utah... the school that recently described as his favorite?
“No,” Mone quickly added.
So who is the leader then?
“Real talk… it’s Michigan,” he said matter-of-factly. “That defense is straight solid. That’s why I’m loving it. Like I said, they play with trust and that’s why I like it. I have Sione (at Michigan) too. It kinda feels like home… for real.”
It’s an enviable perch for the Wolverines to be on to be sure, but there is still work to do.