Back in the winter of 2011, Salt Lake City (UT) Highland Coach Brody Benson told Michigan assistant Jerry Montgomery he had something special in Bryan Mone. Though only a sophomore, it didn’t take long for the Wolverines to realize that Benson was right. They saw enough of Mone on film and on the basketball court to convince that them that he should be the first player offered in the 2014 class. From that point on the Maize & Blue pursued him relentlessly, and today that hard work paid off with a commitment.
“Bryan, in our previous talks, basically said that he wanted to wait and go on his trips,” recalled Benson. “Then there was a point where he started talking about (committing), but then he kind of backed off of it and said we were going to go through the process and make the decision next year. This morning was the first time I’d seen him since last Wednesday, and he just said, ‘Coach I think I’m ready to commit.’ He was away this weekend on a church retreat and said he prayed about it, and in his heart it felt good.”
Mone had stated previously stated being close to home would be a major factor in his recruitment, but the relationships he now has in Ann Arbor made him much more comfortable with the idea of getting away.
“I think it helped having Sione Houma out there for one,” said Benson. “Number two, I think he felt a strong connection with Coach Montgomery right off (the bat). Then when he was able to talk to Coach Hoke when he was out there in November, he just felt real good about it. He described it as a family, and that’s what he wanted with where he went to college… to have a close bunch… both players and coaches. He said he felt really strongly that Michigan was the right place. He really likes the coaching staff and he is really excited to be heading out there.”
Hoke & company are probably more excited. In Mone they’ve landed one the most physically precocious linemen in country that proved to be an imposing force on the football field.
“He had 75-plus tackles, 12 for loss, five sacks, and forced four fumbles… but then he turns around and starts on the offensive line,” Benson stated. “The kid never comes off the field. To be 300 lbs. and yet be able to do that, it says a lot about him as a player and his work ethic. He works his guts out in the weight room and does a real good job for us. He is big, strong, powerful, and tenacious. He flat gets after it. He uses his hands very well and he has real good feet for a big guy. He changes directions really well. He still has a lot to work on and he knows that. He is a kid that is never settled with where he is at, which is good. He is also very humble. He always makes sure that he directs everything towards his teammates. He is not a ‘me’ guy, he is a ‘we’ guy. He definitely is a great teammate and wants to promote his fellow players.”
“As far as his leadership ability, he is definitely a dominating presence. When he speaks he is not a huge rah-rah guy, but when he talks he wants people to listen to him. They fall in and they listen. They know that he is about the team, that he wants what’s best for the team, and that he is willing to do the work. He is awesome to have. I wish I had a couple more like him so I could get him off the field and talk to him a little bit more during the game about what’s going on because he sees things. He is not a kid who just runs out there and aimlessly follows the football. He reads what teams are trying to do.”
A virtual shoe-in to be an All-American, Mone has consistently drawn comparisons to former Highland standout, Haloti Ngata. The self-deprecating youngster has shied away from such talk, but his coach doesn’t completely dismiss it as being off base.
“It’s tough for me to say because I wasn’t here with Haloti,” stated Benson. “Obviously Haloti is an unbelievable football player, and for Bryan to even be brought up in the same breath makes me feel really good about what lies in store for him. What I can say is in high school I’m pretty sure Haloti played just one way, especially his senior year. Bryan will be a two-way guy for us. He has had to work hard on a daily basis when it comes to keeping his weight down, being in shape, being strong, and staying injury free to be able to do that. That says a lot about Bryan, his work ethic, his work in the weight room, and again, his willingness to be an unselfish football player and do what’s best for the team.”
That unselfishness certainly will certainly carry over when he makes his way to Ann Arbor. He will line up at whatever position his future coaches ask him to. And while most believe that will be as an interior lineman, Benson isn’t necessarily convinced.
“I don’t necessarily lump him in to just being an inside guy,” said the Highland headman. “He is going to play the five (technique) and the rush for us. Depending on what his body does when he gets in there with the strength program and Coach (Aaron) Wellman and the way they monitor his food which is so hard for us to do on the high school level… who knows, he could be 315-320 lbs. and be a running a little bit better than he is now. They might just put him on the edge and let him go crazy. So I definitely wouldn’t just say he is going to be a nose or a three (technique), and that’s it. If Bryan makes up his mind that he wants to play on the edge, he’ll do that.”
And if he makes up his mind be committed to a school, Benson expects him to do that that as well.
“The way I see it, he’ll only be visiting Michigan,” insisted Benson. “I have other players that are going to draw other coaches in, so I know he is still going to have coaches in his face wanting to talk to him. Bryan is the kind of guy that is going to sit down and talk to them because that is his personality… he is just a nice kid. But I also think that once Bryan makes up his mind and says he is going to do something, he holds true to it.”
In other words, look for him to sign on the dotted line for the Wolverines in February of 2014.
Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for more for Mone himself in the coming hours.