- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Even 2014 ESPN Watch List offensive lineman Mason Cole (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) has to laugh at himself when he refers to 60 degrees as “chilly.”
The Chicago native, who has been living in Florida for the past eight years, admits that while he enjoys the sunny weather, he still craves the snow and blustery winters of the Windy City. In fact, it’s one of the things he -- unlike many other Southern prospects -- enjoys about Midwest schools.
“I miss it,” Cole said of the cold weather. “I’m glad I’ve never had to spend Christmas down here when it’s hot.”
So while weather sometimes plays a factor in recruitment, it seems not to have affected Cole.
He hasn’t officially named a top group out of his offers, but the Wolverines as well as Notre Dame and USC have really stood out to him. He said that what has impressed him about the trio is how each has a storied history, good programs now and talented coaching staffs.
The 6-foot-5, 266-pound tackle was on campus last summer for the BBQ at the Big House and recently returned for the rivalry matchup with Michigan State.
After having seen how massive the empty stadium appeared this summer, Cole couldn’t wait to see it with 110,00-plus fans filling it. And it didn’t fall short of his expectations.
“The whole atmosphere and experience was just awesome. I loved it,” Cole said. “Seeing it all in action, seeing it all live, especially because it was such a good game, I saw it at one of the best times to see it. It was crazy.”
During the weekend Cole also had the opportunity to speak with Michigan coach Brady Hoke, offensive line coach Darrell Funk and defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.
“They expressed how much they want me and how great it would be if I were a Wolverine,” Cole said.
The Michigan coaching staff wasn’t alone in recruiting Cole. The Wolverines’ 2014 commits, linebacker Michael Ferns and offensive tackle Denzel Ward, who were both in attendance, made sure Cole knew how welcomed he’d be in maize and blue.
Cole said the two still text and Facebook message him and he appreciates it.
“It’s cool building a relationship with players that might be my future teammates,” Cole said.
Cole feels as though he has done a good job of balancing his recruiting with his junior season, taking only one visit so far. He’ll make his way out to USC on Nov. 10 and Notre Dame on Nov. 17, but will probably hold off on any more visits until his season is over.
And once the offseason comes, other than having more free time for conditioning and weight lifting, the junior will have a big decision weighing on his mind.
“I want to make a decision definitely before my senior season,” Cole said. “It could be earlier sometime, maybe late winter or early spring, but the latest it would be is this summer. It just depends if I fall in love with a school, just get that feeling about the school before I decide.”
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