MIAMI BEACH — Though the Michigan football team will lose three of its starting offensive linemen this offseason, it will have an anchor returning in center Mason Cole.
The junior considered leaving for the NFL Draft, but he has instead decided to come back for his senior year, Cole said Wednesday at Fogo de Chao Steakhouse in Miami Beach.
“I just think it was a better decision,” Cole said. “I’ll be stronger in a year, come back, get better.”
Cole submitted his name for evaluation by the NFL Draft Advisory Board, but said Wednesday that he had his mind mostly made up even before hearing back. He transitioned to center this season after playing his first two seasons for the Wolverines at left tackle.
With fifth-year seniors Erik Magnuson, Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden all graduating, Cole will join freshman left guard Ben Bredeson as the only two returning starters, though sophomore left tackle Grant Newsome was starting before suffering a gruesome leg injury against Wisconsin that ended his season and could keep him out into next year.
Butt wins Senior CLASS Award
Adding to the Wolverines’ good news Wednesday was the announcement that senior tight end Jake Butt won the NCAA’s Senior Class Award for football, given to the most outstanding senior athlete who displays notable achievements in community, classroom, character and competition.
Butt, who was battling an illness at Fogo de Chao on Wednesday but says he has still been active in practice, was a captain for the Wolverines this season. With 43 catches and 508 yards in 2016, he became the program’s all-time leader in both categories by a tight end. He is four touchdowns short of becoming the most prolific scoring tight-end in school history, and now, he is the only Senior CLASS Award winner in school history for any sport.