2017 Season Countdown: #77 Ben Mason

2017 Season Countdown: #77 Ben Mason


June 6, 2017

Ben Mason (image via Twitter)

Name: Ben Mason
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 247 lbs.
High school: Newtown (CT) Newtown
Position: Fullback/linebacker
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #42
Last year: Mason was a senior in high school. He ran 80 times for 719 yards and 11 touchdowns; caught 15 passes for 188 yards and 3 touchdowns; and made 63 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions (1 for a TD), and 2 forced fumbles.
TTB Rating: 74

Mason is an impressive physical specimen, as evidenced by the fact that he was a relatively unknown prospect when he walked into Schembechler Hall for a recruiting visit . . . and walked out with an offer. He’s been a big deal in his home state for a couple years, but New England isn’t known for pumping out elite football players. But he fits what Jim Harbaugh wants, and that means he’s a versatile, tough football player.

Mason enrolled early in January and took part in spring practices. He spent most of his time as a linebacker, but Harbaugh revealed recently that he will probably be a fullback, which is what many expected when he came out of high school. Harbaugh also said that the running backs were lobbying for Mason to be a fullback, because after seeing him lead block a little bit during the spring, they saw what he could do. At 6’3″ and 247 lbs. with a violent streak, he could be devastating. This year there probably won’t be a ton of room for playing time, since there are two fifth-year seniors at the position (Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi). However, the spot will open up in 2018, and Michigan may want to groom Mason to be the starter.

Prediction: Backup fullback

5 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 3928
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jun 06, 2017 at 1:43 PM

    The versatility (rushing yards, receiving yards, big defensive role) is exciting and speaks to overall athleticism and football aptitude. Not exactly the LB w/QB experience that Thunder has lauded in the past but a similar concept.

    Other than Kingston Davis, I think this is the first Harbaugh recruit who was brought on with the intent of becoming a FB. That’s something to look forward to.

    I’ve questioned Poggi, Mason and other’s fit at FB based on size. With a 90s prototype in my mind, I imagine FBs to be short, stout and powerful. Disappearing necks, low center of gravity for leverage, etc.

    I’m over it. PFF ranked the top FB in the NFL and all of them were between 6’1 and 6’3 in the 240-255 pound range and had heights. Harbaugh seems to be trending bigger than that (260-270 pounds seems to be his ideal) but clearly my prototype is as outdated as 5’10 CBs and 235 pound safeties. The Harbaugh FB spot is more like a short TE in terms of physical profile (or what used to be called the H-back).

    https://twitter.com/PFF/status/809378486951485441

    Will be interesting to see if Mason is red-shirted since he’s not needed at FB barring injury. My guess would be NOT since Mason could help on special teams and they’ll want him to be as ready as possible for a starting role in 2018.

    • Comments: 143
      Joined: 9/15/2015
      ragingbull
      Jun 06, 2017 at 6:37 PM

      low center of gravity, powerful, no neck, hits like a freight train, etc…perfectly describes 1 of the best FBs ive ever seen…lorenzo neal. dude was like 5’10” 250 (i believe he was also a heavyweight wrestling star) and not many did it better. what a beast. youre right, FBs have usually fit that body type. at a position where its mostly all about leverage (and attitude), its an asset to be able to carry 250 lbs on a shorter frame and explode up into defenders.

      the game evolves though and as players (or humans in general) have become bigger over the years, FBs have also grown. not as many teams use FBs in modern game but there are still some good ones out there…theyre spread across the size spectrum a bit more than in the past, though on the whole FBs are bigger (i wouldve guessed 6’1″ 250 which i guess jives with the ranges listed in above referenced PFF data).

      an underrated aspect (which you mention in different manner) is coaches / GMs desire to better manage the roster by signing FBs with more versatile skill sets…the more versatile skill set is the key, though most happen to also be larger than in past. if the FB can also handle some functions typically asked of HBs / TEs and present more of threat in pass game in addition to leading, kicking out, etc, then why not make that move with roster limits of 53…you can add a FB who also doubles as 3rd TE or whatever and it potentially allows you more roster flexibility in other areas.

      many FBs are of the HB variety in terms of size and skill set. not as many FBs matriculating from college to pros so pickings have been slimmer with more converted TEs (and bigger TBs and even some converted LBs vs traditional FBs entering the league from FB heavy pro style college O). you mentioned most nfl impact FBs averaging maybe 6’2″ 250 and there are plenty of examples of really good FB types with more traditional HB frames.

      bottom line…you obviously dont need to be a sawed off, no neck old school type FB to have success these days (though built in leverage advantage never hurts when blocking) and i think well see it with mason

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3928
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jun 06, 2017 at 8:02 PM

        Houma & Kerridge fit the old school mold – they were around 6’0 (probably generous) and around 230-240. Both were very effective. Bobby Henderson was the same. I figured Harbaugh would go back to that when he could but bigger seems to be better in his eyes and I’m not going to dispute Harbaugh on fullbacks.

        The other guy (besides Mason) that Harbaugh went after was also 6’2/240 coming out of HS. (Chase Lasater). That was an interesting one – a guy who (if you believe news reports) turned down Michigan and Auburn to attend….FAU.

  2. Comments: 143
    Joined: 9/15/2015
    ragingbull
    Jun 06, 2017 at 6:48 PM

    i like mason as a recruit and every team needs some of those types each class (regardless of position)…guys that love football, lead with great work ethic, dont cause problems, and are willing to switch positions or do whatever it takes to help the team and win games. and that attitude doesnt have to mean theyre any less talented though we usually hear about it more from walkons and position switchers and whatnot bc thats the story written and those guys demonstrated it for all to see…but i actually think they signed a ton of those type guys last year including stars like people-jones. winovich, poggi, hill, devin gardner, etc…gotta love those type dudes willing to do whatever for the squad.

    i think mason could be a very good FB or average to above average MLB – i like most everything else about his game but he appears to currently lack the lateral quickness to truly make big impact at LB. i think hed be a decent LB but that inability to rapidly and fluidly move laterally would limit him there much more than FB (where its more about leverage, initial quickness, explosion, balance, attitude). he has potential to be a beast FB…a versatile threat able to pick up 4-5 yards on the ground, catch first down passes if given the chance, lead block, seal the edge, etc…and it sounds like hell be a problem when exploding into LOS in short yardage (as runner or blocker).

    mason seems underrated and / or underappreciated by many due to recruiting profile, home state, high school competition, projected position, etc but hes a dude who could start for 3-4 years and make an impact in like 40 games before hes done…like the punter robbins, a significant piece of that huge recruiting class often lost in the shuffle of 25 4 star prospects and hyped up future pros and whatnot. you can tell how much the coaches like and value guys like mason and robbins and how much they expect from them even in brief comments…and clearly also tell by the fact that they recruited them and those guys crossed the finish line on signing day with scholarships (since walkons often compete for and start at those 2 positions)

  3. Painter Smurf
    Comments: 253
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Painter Smurf
    Jun 07, 2017 at 9:41 AM

    Glad that Mason was open to making this move so early. Coaches miscalculated Davis’ willingness to move to FB, so they really needed Mason to be flexible. With all of the roaming, blitzing, and coverage demands, Mason was not going to be an ideal fit at LB. Especially considering the kid shows up to campus as a chiseled 250 lbs 17 year old. He’ll be 260+ in no time.

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