When Hartland (Wis.) Arrowhead senior offensive lineman Ben Bredeson committed to Michigan he did so because he found it to be the best fit. That said, it was definitely one heck of a bonus that his brother Jack will also be in Ann Arbor playing baseball.
Hartland, Wis. — When Ben Bredeson set out on a spring break trip to Ann Arbor two years ago, little did he know that he was about to see the program that all the others on his list would be compared to. By the time he left, though, it was clear to the four-star lineman's mother that Michigan would be her son's recruiting standard.
"Michigan was the very first school Ben, little (brother) Max, and I visited together and we took a road trip over spring break two years ago,” Debra Bredeson told The Michigan Insider. “Nobody else held a candle to it. Once we sat down and met with the academic advisors and really spent time with them and learned about the programs they have in place for the kids, then nobody else compared.”
That experience would prove beneficial on another recruiting front in the subsequent months. The Michigan baseball program made Ben's older brother Jack one of its top recruiting priorities. The following summer, in July of 2014, Jack decided to end his recruitment and pledged to continue his baseball career in Ann Arbor. That day the Wolverines officially added another big feather in its cap when it came to recruiting Ben.
“We started playing together since 3 or 4,” Ben told The Michigan Insider after his his team's 28-14 victory over Mequon (Wis.) Homestead. “It has been forever. There were a lot of competitive nights and lot of fights in the basement, but it helped both of us get going.”
“Once we hit high school, the rivalry ended and we started working together. Now we are tighter than ever and he just came and gave me a big hug after the game. We are great.”
Knowing his older brother would be in Ann Arbor was "a bonus" but not the main factor in his decision to commit to Michigan over offers from other strong suitors like Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Alabama. However from mom's perspective Jack's presence was probably more significant than her middle son currently realizes.
“Jack was a big piece,” said Mrs. Bredeson. “They are close and they are brothers. They are competitive, but are only a year apart and have been together on this field every year. (Last Thursday) was the first night that Ben has ever played without Jack on the field. As a mom it is pretty cool to have them together... to know that even though you are seven hours away, you've got family right across the street and can still be together whenever you need each other.”
“For parents to come watch... I get to kill two birds with one stone by coming to watch baseball and get to spend the day with Ben. Then (we can) watch football and have Jack come with us. It is as good as it can ever be. We are very blessed and we know it.”
In retrospect the only time Michigan seemed to lose momentum in its quest to lure both brothers to Ann Arbor was when the football program underwent a coaching change. Some of the comfort that was lost when news of the firing broke was immediately restored when Bredesons learned that defensive line coach Greg Mattison was being retained. He after all was the coach they'd established the strongest bond with. From there it a matter of establishing the same kind of connection with the rest of the new coaching staff.
“When the new coaching staff came in we were thrilled that Greg was still a part of it because he is important to us, plus he knows my boys," Mrs. Bredeson said. "I feel really good having him be a part of their lives there, but we love the new coaches. Ben got to really know Coach Harbaugh and Coach Drevno really well on one of our last visits there. We were impressed. They are men that I trust to give my boys too. For me, I needed to feel comfortable turning my kids over to someone who is going to take care of them and I feel like they will.”
Those bonds are as firm as they can be short of officially consummating it on national signing day. But that hasn't stopped friends that are diehard Wisconsin fans from trying.
“We have a lot of good friends standing here who are still campaigning for him to be a Badger,” Mrs. Bredeson said laughingly. “We are building a new house right now and when they poured the concrete I craved ‘Go Blue’ right in there. Then one of our good friends came by and wrote ‘Let’s Go Red.' (Laughter) So we had to buff that out and has been taken care of.”
“It is friendly, but people here like to see their kids stick around and play for the home team."
"But (Michigan) was just a better fit for Ben.”