Early in the fourth quarter against Iowa on Saturday, the
Wolverines were ahead 23-10 and had the Hawkeyes pinned back near
their endzone.

Michigan Football
Grant Mason celebrates his touchdown Saturday. (ELISE BERGMAN/Daily)

On the third play of that drive, cornerback Grant Mason put the
game away, intercepting a pass and returning it 25 yards for a
touchdown.

Mason, a senior, looked like a wide receiver pulling down a pass
and weaving through would-be tacklers. But then again, that’s
the position he played before transferring to Michigan.

When Mason was a senior at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, he
chose to attend Stanford. He considered Michigan, but the Pontiac
native had his reasons.

Stanford is among the top schools academically. The Cardinal
were a promising team. He wanted to live on his own away from
home.

And, maybe most importantly, it’s 70 degrees and sunny all
year long.

“I really liked the California weather,” Mason said
with a laugh.

After he redshirted his freshman year, Mason saw time at
receiver, as well as on punt and kickoff returns. Though his 23
receptions put him in a tie for fourth on the team, Mason realized
that leaving home wasn’t quite what he expected it to be.

“Stanford is a great school and I had a great time, but
after a little while I missed playing in front of my family and
friends,” Mason said. “The weather was great, but it
couldn’t make up for that.”

When Mason came to Ann Arbor last year, he also made the switch
to defense. Because Michigan coach Lloyd Carr wasn’t sure if
a spot would open up at receiver, and had a year to find a spot for
Mason while he redshirted as a transfer, he had Mason spend time in
practice on both sides of the ball. In the end, cornerback was the
best fit.

The transition to defense wasn’t difficult for Mason. In
his final two years in high school, Mason recorded 19 interceptions
and caught 75 balls (many from current teammate Jermaine Gonzales)
and was among the region’s top recruits.

But being forced to redshirt a second time was much more
difficult to deal with.

“It was the toughest thing I’ve ever gone
through,” said Mason, who will have one year of eligibility
after this season. “To go from playing my entire life to
being on the sidelines isn’t fun. The fun part of football is
playing, and I didn’t get to do that.

“But at the same time, last year gave me a chance to
settle down, get acclimated to the program and just keep improving.
It’s really made a difference for me this year, and next year
I’ll be even better.”

Until Saturday’s game against Iowa, Mason had seen playing
time primarily on special teams. But in his limited role, he did
enough to get Carr’s attention.

“He has made some tackles on the kickoffs that are
bone-jarring, knock-’em-down-where-they-are kind of
plays,” Carr said. “They aren’t plays where he
hits a guy and the guy runs three of four more yards. These guys go
down.”

Against the Hawkeyes, who early on abandoned the running game,
Mason saw significant playing time on defense for the first time.
It’s an opportunity he appreciates.

“They gave me an opportunity to come back and play here,
and that’s all I could ask for,” Mason said on
Saturday. “I’ve been able to contribute on special
teams and today I got a role on defense and was able to make a
play.

“I’m having a great time playing on this team, being
back home and being with these guys. It’s just a lot of
fun.”

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