The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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24 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2018 BY JOHN BORTON T he 2018 NFL Draft offered different experiences for a pair of Michigan line stal- warts, ranging from elation to frustration and relief. Offensive lineman Mason Cole's re- ward arrived when the Arizona Car- dinals selected him in the third round with the 97th pick of the draft. Cole, who started 51 straight games for the Wolverines over four years, didn't try to conceal his excitement. "I just got the phone call and I'm just beyond excited," Cole reacted on a teleconference April 27. "It's unbe- lievable." The Oakland Raiders snagged de- fensive tackle Maurice Hurst two rounds later with the 140th pick over- all. Just a few months ago, that would have been considered unbelievable. Most saw Hurst as a surefire first- round selection. But a heart condition involving the five-year Michigan per- former, discovered at the NFL Com- bine, caused teams to back off when it came time to make their picks. Understandably, some angst tem- pered Hurst's excitement over getting taken by the Raiders. "It's tough going into it thinking that you're one of the top players in the draft," Hurst said. "Just having good tape and everything like that, [but] having to wait and see guys that you believe you are better than go ahead of you, it sucks." At the same time, Hurst sees an op- portunity, and plans to go after it like he does when propelling himself at an opposing quarterback. This year's draft did highlight the experienced talent drop-off for the Wolverines in 2017. One year after seeing a school-record 11 players chosen in the annual talent divvy up, Michigan saw just the two taken in 2018, although three Wolverines signed as free agents and can still carve out a pro career. Linebacker Mike McCray signed with the Mi- ami Dolphins, fullback Khalid Hill with the Seattle Seahawks and full- back Henry Poggi with the Oakland Raiders. Arizona cast an appreciative eye on Cole's ironman act in Ann Arbor, in which he never missed a game. He started against Appalachian State in Michigan's 2014 opener, becoming the first true freshman offensive line- man in U-M history to do so. As a junior in 2016, he moved to center, filling a need and earning sec- ond-team All-Big Ten status. Jumping back out to left tackle in his senior season — again to plug a spot that demanded his ability — he repeated the All-Big Ten second-team status. Before his long run with the Wol- verines, Cole started 53 straight games for East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Fla. That makes it 104 consecutive contests, without a miss, but who's counting? The Cardinals, for one. "Mason Cole was a guy that caught our eye not only at the Senior Bowl, but we had a tremendous visit with him at the combine," Arizona gen- eral manager Steve Keim noted. "It says a lot about a player that goes to the University of Michigan as the only true freshman to ever start on the offensive line [in an opener] and has started 51 consecutive games. He DETERMINED DUO NFL Draft Ushers Mason Cole And Maurice Hurst Into The Pros Cole's toughness and durability enticed the Arizona Cardinals to select the versatile lineman in the third round with the 97th pick of the NFL Draft. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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