Michigan’s coaching staff has undergone a major change on the defensive side of the football, but that doesn’t mean any less of a pursuit of hard-nosed linebackers. Defensive coordinator Don Brown replaced D.J. Durkin (now the head coach at Maryland) in December, coming from Boston College, where he helmed the nation’s top-ranked defense in 2015.
Brown picked up another feather in his cap Tuesday evening, when Sandy Hook (Conn.) Newtown three-star Ben Mason picked U-M. In fact, Mason cited his relationship with Brown as the key to his pledge.
“I’m in love with the coaches,” he raved. “I knew Brown from Boston College, so that’s how I initially got in touch with them. Coach Brown’s style of coaching is … he’s so intense. I’ve never seen a coach like this.”
Mason’s commitment is another boost to linebacker recruiting in Ann Arbor. After Brown’s hiring, 2016 four-star Elysee Mbem-Bosse out of Georgia went from hardly considering U-M to committed, hybrid linebacker/defensive end Josh Uche burst onto the U-M radar and signed, and now Michigan has its second 2017 pledge from a linebacker (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Josh Ross joined up in March).
And there will be more in the 2017 class, with the top remaining target being Paramus (N.J.) Catholic four-star Drew Singleton. He’s a former teammate of Michigan’s top 2016 signee, Rashan Gary, and one of the nation’s most talented ‘backers. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder made his way to Ann Arbor for the Wolverines’ spring game — just the latest in what seems like a countless string of visits to campus — and got to see a few new things.
“I feel like, every time I go to Michigan, it’s something different,” he said. “I saw deeper into the academic side of Michigan. I actually got to tap more into the business school at Michigan last time I was there. I think it’s a great program with a lot of great opportunities.”
If U-M can close with Singleton, it undoubtedly would result in one of the most impressive linebacker classes in the country. With a true middle linebacker in Mason, an athletic outside linebacker in Singleton, and Ross, who can perform in either role, there would be plenty of talent on hand for Brown.
Tim Sullivan is the football recruiting editor of The Wolverine magazine and thewolverine.com. He is also a contributor to national football recruiting coverage on the rivals.com network. You can follow him on Twitter @tims_wolverine