Mason Cole’s ‘Mental Make-up’ Separating Him

True freshman Mason Cole continues to sit at the top of Michigan’s depth chart at left tackle. Monday, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier talked more about the freshman’s stunning rise since arriving in January and Cole’s daily approach to the game.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- What does it take for a true freshman to start at left tackle at Michigan?

No one really knows because it simply doesn’t happen.

But that’s what true freshman Mason Cole is prepared to do as Michigan takes the field Saturday to kick off the 2014 season against Appalachian State.

Enrolling in Ann Arbor in January, a full semester before most other freshmen, Cole has maintained consistency at the spot beginning in spring football.

Monday, first year offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier took a stab at just why this 18 year old Florida native is on the verge of doing something most other freshman physically can’t do, let alone grasping the mental part of the game so quickly.

“He’s a special kid,” Nussmeier said. “And when you look at what we’ve asked of him from day one and really with no expectation, we put him out at left tackle during the spring and just watched as he grew day to day and you always wonder if it’s going to be too much.”

Clearly Cole has been anything but overwhelmed.

At a disadvantage among the other offensive linemen based on experience and the overall physical gains made in the weight room at the collegiate level, one advantage Cole does possess is the fact that Nussmeier’s system is the only one he knows.

Either way, Cole has shown little issue devouring the concepts and assignments required of him protecting Devin Gardner’s blind side.

“I think mental make-up is the biggest thing that separates Mason right now,” Nussmeier said. “He’s so mature beyond his years.

“His approach everyday, he’s steady as a rock and what he’s achieved really I don’t think has surprised anybody within our building.”

On the practice field, Cole is routinely going up against defensive ends with three or four years of life on him including seniors Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer.

To Cole’s credit, he’s stuck his nose in there and earned the respect of his veteran teammates.

“I compete against him everyday,” Beyer said Monday. “He’s good, he’s stepped right in as a young’un and he knows what he’s doing. He’s a solid player, solid to go against.”