While the bulk of the attention at Michigan’s BBQ at the Big House recruiting event last weekend is focused on the players who aren’t committed, it’s also an incredibly important time for the players who are pledged to the Wolverines to bond and learn more about the program they’re joining.
Newtown (Conn.) Sandy Hook 2017 three-star linebacker Ben Mason said the visit reaffirmed everything about why he committed to U-M and Jim Harbaugh.
“There are some great things happening there,” he said. “Just sitting down with Coach Harbaugh and letting him get to know my family was a lot of fun. He oozes competitiveness. You can almost feel it in the room whenever he’s in there and it gets you pumped up. I felt that more than ever on this visit and am more excited than ever to play for Coach (Don) Brown and Coach Harbaugh.”
Another verbal commitment, Berrien Springs three-star defensive tackle Phillip Paea, has been to U-M countless times but saw two major ways in which the barbecue visit benefited both he and his family.
“Spending a lot of time with the guys you are going to be playing with at Michigan is a really big deal to me,” Paea said of the 10 U-M 2017 verbal commitments in town. “We get to know each other that much better and can start building the bonds that we’ll solidify when we all get to camp next year and start playing with the team.
“We all decided that we’re going to try to take our official visit together sometime this fall. That will be the next step for the group of us in getting to know each other better and also in helping us work to recruit some other guys in our class.”
The setup of the BBQ this year was similar to 2015; a scavenger hunt followed by a mix of fun and serious at Michigan Stadium for the players and their families.
For Mason, it gave both he and his family another side of both the coaching staff and the program as a whole.
“The event itself was unreal,” he said. “We had arcade games, a rock climbing wall and all kinds of other stuff. Coach Harbaugh even called in an ice cream truck as well. If it’s within the rules and it’s something he thinks we will like, he will get it done. I like that about him. They also had counselors and a lot of academic people in the stadium too who were there to answer questions that we or our parents had about Michigan and what they had to offer. It truly was a surreal experience.”