Print and Go Back ESPN.com: USC Trojans [Print without images]

Thursday, September 6, 2012
OL Mason Cole planning his visits

By Corey Dowlar

Though he himself doesn't garner all the headlines, Mason Cole (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) anchors an offensive line that serves as a catalyst for a high-flying offense.

Teammates like quarterback Pete DiNovo and wide receiver Artavis Scott continue to put up prolific numbers and light up the scoreboard. But as the nature of the position suggests, Cole's efforts aren't necessarily categorized.

He's not looking for that, though. The wins and the good performances are what he's happy about.

"We won our preseason game pretty easily, but our last one, the season opener, we came out a little slow, but we got going in the second half," Cole said. "We played pretty good and showed that we could not only throw the ball, but we could run the ball. I think we are more of a threat now that we can run the ball too.

"It is awesome being around all these playmakers on our team. It is just fun."

Cole, now in possession of over 10 offers, added another one on Monday night from Big 12 newcomer West Virginia. Plenty of other schools, including those that have already made their pursuit public, have been checking in.

"I did get a West Virginia offer [Monday] and the dead period is over so coaches can contact me via email and Facebook, so it has been pretty crazy," he said.

Long-distance unofficial visits aren't too common in the recruiting world these days, but Cole has two scheduled. Busy schedules and the financial commitment it takes to support their own travel plans has these kind of trips usually relegated to official visits.

But Cole is going about as far north and west that he can go this fall.

"I know that me and Artavis Scott will be going to the Michigan-Michigan State game and I am going to the USC and Arizona State game in Los Angeles," he said.

The two in-state powers that have offered, Florida and Florida State, are likely to get visits, too. But those plans haven't been finalized yet -- and they might not be a priority, either.

"I don't know yet," began Cole. "I am sure I'll be at one of those games at each of those schools, but I haven't really figured it out yet.

"I have been to Florida and Florida State games a bunch of times, so I want to see some different teams and different coaches from different schools."

Given his liking for national schools, not just regional, deciding whether distance will be a factor in Cole's decision was important to come to. Right now, it doesn't seem to be a problem.

"Me and my parents have talked about this and I don't think it is going to be that big of a factor," Cole began to explain. "We think of it as generally that I will get homesick no matter where I go. A four-hour drive from here to Tallahassee is just the same as like a two-hour flight from here to Michigan or something like that."

Cole maintains a level playing field for all schools involved in his recruitment, but not for long. After his junior season, and the aforementioned trips, he will sit down and take a good hard look at what he has.

Expect some sort of narrowed list soon afterward.

"Definitely after the season, I will start narrowing it down to a couple of schools and go see a couple of games and take some visits like at USC and Michigan," he mentioned. "Those will be big factors, so we'll see."