Sandy Hook (CT) Newton three-star prospect Ben Mason made good use out of his trip to the Midwest. Visiting Michigan on Tuesday and Wisconsin on Thursday, the inside linebacker walked away impressed with both campus and received a scholarship offer from both schools. Throw in an offer from Columbia on Friday and the 6-3, 240-pound Mason is now up to 17 offers.
Pop on the film of and it’s evident that Mason brings strength. Whether he is playing defensive end or inside linebacker, Mason is a rugged player, able to get the ball carrier and deliver a tackle.
One strength of Mason is his ability to shed blocks, a trait caused by his fast hands that allow him to engage a blocker and quickly disengage to get to the ball carrier. Whether he is pass rushing or run stopping, Mason, more often than not, accomplishes his goal of making the tackle, evident by the fact he’s made 223 tackles the last two seasons.
Another strength is his versatility. Mason’s skill set allows him to play either linebacker position or play in the trenches. This gives his coaches multiple options in which to use him in different formations and schemes to confuse offenses.
Lastly, Mason's biggest strength is his ability to stop the run. His size and toughness helps him fill holes, while his football IQ gives him the confidence to be patient and find the ball carrier. His closing speed is what allows him to finish the tackle. In the words of his coach, “Ben is meant and always will be a run stopper.”
Mason lacks top notch speed for a linebacker, which is why many college coaches see him as a future defensive end. While there’s no verified 40-yard dash time, it's noticeable on his tape that he struggled to go sideline to sideline.
Another one of Mason's areas to improve is his footwork, which isn't as polished as the rest of his game. Perfecting his steps would allow him to play better in the trenches and with his pursuit angles. He also needs to improve his agility, which includes change of direction, footwork in tight spaces and shiftiness. He is a bigger linebacker, so this will always be a challenge for him, but being a fast, shifty linebacker separates players on the college level.
Wisconsin dipped into Connecticut last year to haul in a verbal commitment from tight end Jake Hescock, so going to the Northeast isn’t a stretch. Mason fits Chryst's scheme and could become extremely talented as he develops and corrects his weaknesses. Michigan appears to be in the driver’s seat currently, so the Badgers have some ground to make up. Mason doesn’t have a commitment time frame, only saying he’ll make the decision when it feels right.