Hoke: Cole 'Good Enough' To Play

Freshman Mason Cole could be the starting left tackle this fall.

ANN ARBOR -- Mason Cole is a legit starting candidate.

Only a freshman, the former Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake standout has been mentioned numerous times by U-M coach Brady Hoke as a potential starter for the Wolverines at left tackle this fall.

Cole, who enrolled early this January, has been heat of the competition, and Hoke hasn’t back down on his stance that Cole could be the starter when Michigan open its season on Aug. 30 versus Appalachian State.

“If he’s good enough, he’s old enough,” Hoke said of Cole. “To this point so far he’s been good enough. When you look at competition he’s gone against with Frank [Clark} and those rush ends. And the people he is blocking in the five techniques. He’s held his own very well.”

First year offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier echoed Hoke’s comments.

“Performance doesn’t have an age tied to it,” Nussmeier said. “He’s had an outstanding camp to date. He continues to improve. Obviously it’s a little different than playing at the high school level. But the 15 practices he had in the spring really allowed him to acclimated a little bit. I just really feel like he is taking strides every day.”

At 6-foot-5, 292-pounds, Cole has already made gains in the weight room, too. He has put on close to 30-pounds since arriving in Ann Arbor eight months ago. While he has the size, it’s his mental play that has caught the attention of fellow lineman Erik Magnuson.

“Mason is a really smart player,” Magnuson said. “He understands the game really well. He plays hard. He’s a special player.”

To stand by his earlier comment, Hoke made it known which players will see the field this season.

“You got to play the best players,” Hoke said. “I mean, if you [don’t play them] you’re cheating this program. And we’re not going to do that. So form that standpoint – the best guys have to play. If he’s one of those five [offensive lineman] who is one of the best guys, then he’s going to play.”

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