Name: Ben Mason
Weight: 270 lbs.
High school: Newtown (CT) Newtown
Position: Fullback/defensive tackle
Jersey number: #42
Last year: I ranked Mason #18 and said he would be the starting fullback (LINK). He ran 33 times for 80 yards and 7 touchdowns, caught 1 pass for 15 yards, and made 5 tackles.
TTB Rating: 74
Mason is a fan favorite for a lot of reasons. An old-fashioned tough football player who does a little bit of everything, he came to Michigan in 2017 with hopes to play linebacker and fullback like Owen Marecic did at Stanford. After a freshman year spent as a backup, Mason took over the starting fullback role with Khalid Hill-like season: 7 touchdowns on less than 3 yards per carry. Michigan even lined him up at tailback sometimes and gave him a 7-yard running start at the defense. He scored a career-high 3 touchdowns in the blowout of Nebraska.
This year Mason has plans to do something we’ve never really seen at Michigan over the time I’ve been around. Vince Helmuth was a ballyhooed fullback in the 2007 recruiting class who eventually ended up practicing at defensive tackle once Rich Rodriguez essentially got rid of the fullback position and Helmuth outgrew it, anyway. But Helmuth never actually played in a game on defense. In Mason’s case, he’s listed as both a fullback and defensive tackle on the official roster, and the coaching staff has talked about his ability to contribute at both positions this fall.
Michigan is de-emphasizing the fullback position in much the same way Rodriguez did, but I still expect Mason to get some playing time as an H-back type of fullback. He probably won’t be in a three-point stance four yards behind the center, but he might be in a two-point stance in the guard-tackle gap. The coaches have also talked about him playing 3-tech defensive tackle. It’s not often that someone his size (he was reportedly up to 270 in the spring) plays 3-tech, but Michigan doesn’t have a lot of depth on the interior line, so it’s a possibility that he could get some reps there.
I like Mason, but with the fullback spot losing importance and the fact that he’s learning a new position to be a 270-280 lb. defensive tackle, I just don’t see him having a huge, season-changing impact on the 2018 team.
Prediction: Starting fullback when there is one, backup defensive tackle