Sam Webb: Coach, is this your first time at Michigan?
Brody Benson: “No, third time. I came back last year for spring football and then came back again this year and then they invited me to come out and work the camp.”
Sam Webb: Obviously, everyone wants to know how Bryan (Mone) is coming along. How is he weight wise? I know he was trying to get some weight down.
Brody Benson: “Bryan is doing a great job. He is working his guts out right now. Right now he is flirting at getting under 320 pounds. We’d like to get him down to 310 by the time the season starts. He has taken a couple of summer school classes so he can graduate early and get out here in January. Right now, he is doing everything that we ask. He is a great leader; on the field, in the weight room. The kids respect him. The kids love him. Right now, he’s doing everything that we asked him to do.”
Sam Webb: I’ve talked to you guys for years now going back to Sione (Houma). Let us talk about Bryan and the progress he made last year. What leaps did his game make and what did you challenge him other than weight to improve upon in the offseason?
Brody Benson: “The biggest thing that I have seen with Bryan last year was just his overall technique. He is constantly working his hands, shorten up his strides, playing at the offensive lineman’s heels. The other thing is that Bryan has to flip around and play on the offensive side too. The first couple of games I think Bryan had around 80 snaps. We have some guys that do that. I think his overall…he is becoming a technician and he works it and he is constantly practicing it. That is something we’re still challenging him to do. Obviously, the weight is an issue. He carries 320 very, very well. He just needs to continue to work in the weight room, increase his strength and get his wind down, so he is able to stay on the field for the amount of snaps that we are going to need him.”
Sam Webb: I talked to him a little bit after Coach Montgomery left for Oklahoma and clearly that is a guy that he had a relationship with. Just talk about his interaction with Michigan since then. I know that Dan Ferrigno is a guy that has been instrumental in his recruitment.
Brody Benson: “Dan has done a great job. Their whole staff does a great job. They’ve continued to be on him since h e was a sophomore. I personally thought we would have a little bit of an issue when Jerry left, but they stayed right on him and just assured him that nothing has changed as far as their outlook on him and Bryan feels comfortable there. I think I told you right at the beginning he described it as a family and that is something that is very big to Bryan and all of our team is that family atmosphere and he feels that from the coaches.”
Sam Webb: He could be firm in his commitment, but that does not always preclude other teams from still pursuing him. Are other schools still activity recruiting him and luring him away?
Brody Benson: “We have schools coming in, but for the most part schools are respecting his decision to stay with Michigan and that says a lot about the schools coming in. They’ve just done a good job. They’ve come in and just talked to him and let him know that if things change that they’re definitely still interested. I have not seen anyone come in and really try to push or sway.”
Sam Webb: As far as for anyone that is wondering about Bryan and his certainty about his commitment, what would you say to people who have questions like that?
Brody Benson: “Bryan is true to word. That is one thing that you got to understand about the kid that if he makes a commitment he is sticking with it.”
Sam Webb: One of the things that I thought he would be in line is all star games. Is he hearing from any of the all star games about competing in those?
Brody Benson: “I believe he is looking at playing in the Under Armour game.”
Sam Webb: Is it just preliminary stages or have they selected him already?
Brody Benson: “They haven’t selected, but they’ve gone through the application process. He has that in so we are just waiting to see if he is luckily enough to play in it.”
Sam Webb: Your camp experience here at Michigan…did you happen to bring Bryan with you or is he back in Utah?
Brody Benson: “He’s back in Utah. He’s still working. I’ll be out all next week working the camp. He has got a couple of days of summer school and then he’ll be in the weight room working with the guys.”
Sam Webb: Give me a broad view of Highland football next season. You talked about Bryan individually, but more broadly what do you expect from your team?
Brody Benson: “I’m expecting great things from the team. We have great leaders. We have a lot of kids coming back. Kids who have played two and three years. These guys have worked. We started counting 248 days when we started in January. So right now, we’re down to about 71 days to kickoff. All the kids are excited and working hard. It is a good group. They care about each other. They love one another and they go out and play hard for each other.”
Sam Webb: I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk to you about Sione, I’m sure you talked to him. How has he been coming along here at Michigan?
Brody Benson: “Sione is having a great experience. I just talked to him last night before I came out. We’re going to hook up and go grab something to eat and he loves it. I know one of his big worries was coming out here and not having that Polynesian culture, but again, the family atmosphere with the team. They accepted him right away and in turn, he is trying to give Michigan a little bit of taste of what Polynesians, what Tongans are all about. It is a great culture and you guys are lucky to have Sione here and to get Bryan.”