Tackling Machine Junior Colson To Play Viper At Michigan

Eric Rutter

With Brentwood (Tenn.) Ravenwood four-star outside linebacker Junior Colson joining Michigan’s 2021 class, the Wolverines now leap up to the No. 7 position in the country and rank second among all Big Ten programs.

So far, Michigan has amassed seven total commits on defense— two defensive ends, three linebackers, and two defensive backs, so the Wolverines have succeeded in bringing in a balanced crop of talented players in 2021.

Regarding Colson in particular, the 6-3.5, 224-pound linebacker sees himself as a mixture between a linebacker and a defensive back, and that playing style helped Colson lead his team in tackles last year, which is a trend he hopes to continue this fall. 

At Michigan, defensive coordinator Don Brown has utilized the Viper position to act as a perfect blend of linebacker and defensive back responsibilities, and Brown has pitched this role to Colson throughout his recruitment.

“I think my playing style is definitely more of a hybrid between essentially a linebacker and a corner, kind of like how Isaiah Simmons plays it, Colson told Wolverine Digest. “I like to be used in multiple positions, so I try to be multi-verse in being able to play most spots.

“My coach says we have a 53-man roster, but with me its 56, so I represent like three different people. I can play multiple positions,” Colson said.

Throughout his junior, Colson established himself as one of the premier pass rushing linebackers in the country. Stationed on the edge, Colson uses a combination of speed, bend and leverage on the outside and high level play recognition to race into the backfield to blow up plays.

In coverage, however, Colson also showed the ability to stick with small athletes downfield or to smother tight ends and running backs that ran routes in the flats. And as a Viper, Colson will be asked to play right along the line of scrimmage where both his pass rushing and coverage skills will be in high demand.

“I’ve been working on my pass rush even though a lot of them tell me it’s great, but you can always get better at it,” Colson said. “In my coverage skills, being able to process plays faster. I’ve really been working on film studying, being able to sit down and watch like five or six hours of film a day, being able to break it all down. The more you know the film, the faster you play.”

Now that Colson is in the fold, the next question becomes whether or not he will enroll early to arrive at campus in January.

“Right now, we are working to be an early enrollee, but I don’t know if I’ll do it yet,” Colson said. “But right now, I have enough to be able to enroll early. But that’s going to be a game time decision when that time comes, whether to go early or to wait.”

Whenever Colson make it to Ann Arbor, he will offer not only an exciting dose of athleticism but the commitment and drive to continually improve in order to benefit his team. That aspect of Colson’s character is already on display as it pertains to his upcoming senior season.

“I want to be better, bigger and faster than I was last year, so I would like 200-some tackles,” Colson said. “I’m setting my bars pretty high. I am also set on the high school Butkus award, and I’m up for that. That is what I have my sights set on.”

In all, Colson could have a sizable impact on future Michigan defenses given his athletic profile and how U-M plans to integrate him into the team’s defense. Colson is ranked as a top 125 player in the country, but he could climb those rankings depending on how productive his senior campaign is.

How do you see Junior Colson fitting into Don Brown’s defense? Do you think he will see the field during his true freshman season and skip a redshirt altogether? Let us know!