Big Ben Mason Headed To Big House
Ben Mason stands out on the high school football field. Listed at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, Mason is not only noticeably bigger than most of his teammates and counterparts, but he also possesses quickness. A lethal combination in any sport - size and speed - Mason also has plenty of natural and practice-earned ability.
This hasn't gone unnoticed.
With his senior year at Newtown High School still ahead, Mason - having been recruited by representatives from big-time college football programs from coast to coast - has decided he'll continue his career on the field at the Big House, the University of Michigan's stadium. Mason made the announcement at Cover Two in Sandy Hook on May 3.
"It just felt right," Mason said of his recent visit to the Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.
Mason said his rapport with newly appointed Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown, who had recruited Mason while serving in the same capacity at Boston College, went a long way in his decision.
"I think we've really built a good relationship. I feel really comfortable with him," Mason said.
Michigan is in the Big Ten Conference, known as being one of - if not the best - for football. Teams include Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Looking ahead to 2017, Mason's freshman year, the Wolverines will play the nonconference Florida Gators in the season opener.
Mason has plenty of reason to be excited.
"You're playing all the best teams all around the country," he said.
Newtown Coach Steve George said all of the big schools in the Northeast, including the University of Connecticut and Rutgers, were among those to pursue Mason. Others include Duke and California.
"Michigan has a chance to compete for a national championship" next year and when Mason joins the program, George anticipates. "He'll fit right in and he'll learn quickly."
Mason, a middle linebacker, had a team-high 113 tackles, four quarterback sacks, and four interceptions this past fall. He returned those four picks for a combined 137 yards. Mason, who will play on defense at Michigan, also contributed significantly on the offensive side of the ball in Newtown this past season with a team-best 18 touchdowns. He had 24 receptions for 416 yards, and carried the ball 43 times for 231 yards.
Mason is a two-time Walter Camp Team selection, which features the top players in the state.
"I can't be more proud of him," said George, adding that Mason has the work ethic to improve season after season.
"He keeps getting bigger, stronger, faster every year," George said.
Mason bench-presses 330 pounds, squats well over 500, and power cleans more than 300 pounds. "It's off the charts," George notes.
Mason shows off his strength and quickness in track and field as well. He throws the shot-put and runs the 100 meter dash, as well as providing a leg in the 4x100 relay event. Mason runs a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash.
Mason has one more year of being a Nighthawk before he becomes a Wolverine.
"I'm looking forward to next year with them first," he said of playing with the Hawks at Blue & Gold Stadium for another campaign.
"It's good to have the decision over with before the season so I can focus on that and my team which is what's most important," added Mason, who plans to study business.
"Newtown football's been great to me," said Mason, adding that the fact George had the confidence in Mason to start him as a freshman went a long way. "I wouldn't be where I am without him."
One of the best things about playing football in Newtown, Mason said, is the friendships he's made.
Mason will have an opportunity to make plenty more friends, in front of ginormous crowds.
With a seating capacity of 109,901, the Big House is the largest stadium in the United States, the second largest stadium in the world, and the 34th largest sports venue.
Sounds like the right place for Newtown's big-time player.