ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- What does it take for a true freshman to start at left tackle at Michigan?
No one really knows because it simply doesn’t happen.
Enrolling in Ann Arbor in January, a full semester before most other freshmen, Cole has maintained consistency at the spot beginning in spring football.
Monday, first year offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier took a stab at just why this 18 year old Florida native is on the verge of doing something most other freshman physically can’t do, let alone grasping the mental part of the game so quickly.
“He’s a special kid,” Nussmeier said. “And when you look at what we’ve asked of him from day one and really with no expectation, we put him out at left tackle during the spring and just watched as he grew day to day and you always wonder if it’s going to be too much.”
Clearly Cole has been anything but overwhelmed.
At a disadvantage among the other offensive linemen based on experience and the overall physical gains made in the weight room at the collegiate level, one advantage Cole does possess is the fact that Nussmeier’s system is the only one he knows.
Either way, Cole has shown little issue devouring the concepts and assignments required of him protecting Devin Gardner’s blind side.
“I think mental make-up is the biggest thing that separates Mason right now,” Nussmeier said. “He’s so mature beyond his years.
“His approach everyday, he’s steady as a rock and what he’s achieved really I don’t think has surprised anybody within our building.”
To Cole’s credit, he’s stuck his nose in there and earned the respect of his veteran teammates.
“I compete against him everyday,” Beyer said Monday. “He’s good, he’s stepped right in as a young’un and he knows what he’s doing. He’s a solid player, solid to go against.”