- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
By the time 2014 offensive lineman Mason Cole (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) graduates from high school, he might be considered an old man at East Lake High School.
He has done more in two seasons at East Lake than most players do in their entire careers. As a freshman, he started every single game. As a sophomore he was a leader on the line. This year, he could very well be a captain.
“I feel like that experience has made me mature a lot quicker than other players -- in the game and as a personality,” Cole said.
Because of his maturity, Cole has garnered more than 25 college offers already including Michigan, Florida, Ohio State and USC.
East Lake coach Bob Hudson said it’s very rare to have any player, especially a lineman, start from day one. But he has seen that maturity in Cole and that he always looked forward to the matchups he gave Cole.
“As coaches, we push him really hard because that’s so important,” Hudson said. “We play at a high level and for him to come in and compete so early and develop so well has been fun.”
Hudson said Cole’s size and strength is what initially separated him from other players, but that it was his quick feet that really allowed him to start so early.
Cole’s game experience will be crucial to the East Lake team this year. On what will be a very young offensive line, on a team fighting for a state championship, Cole is exactly the type of player they need.
When Cole was a freshman, a senior took him in under his wing and Cole is now using that experience to help reach out to the younger kids at East Lake.
“I’ve taken some of the leadership because I’ve been there for two years,” Cole said. “I’m teaching them scheme and technique. I’m not that big of a vocal person. I like to lead by example.”
And it’s those type of leadership qualities coupled with his style of play and game experience that have so many colleges throwing their hat in for the big tackle.
He has had a busy summer with camps and visits. This weekend he will be in town for the BBQ in the Big House and is hoping to see if he feels at home in Michigan’s facilities as well as among the coaches and other recruits and commits.
“I really want a place where I can feel at home,” Cole said. “Even just talking with the coaches and trainers or walking around the campus. That’s important.”
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