In a matter of months, class of 2012 offensive lineman Ben Braden has grown over an inch and gained 40 pounds of mostly muscle. Now standing at 6'7'' 325 pounds, Braden is ready to get on campus and make an immediate impact on the football field - which is good news because Michigan needs game-ready linemen now. Ben was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his Sunday afternoon to speak with me about those topics and address the many inquiries posed by TTB readers.
Physical development: Really it was because of strength and conditioning every day and pretty much just eating everything in sight. I try my best to avoid junk food and eat a lot of high protein and high carbs - burgers, chicken, steak, pasta, salad. I pretty much eat everything; I just try to stay away from really sweet stuff like chocolate and stuff like that. I'll eat a lot during the day, but it'll be in smaller portions. I don't do any supplementary thing and don't have a certain amount of calories I try to eat every day, either. I just eat.
Early playing time: Right now, the plan is that I will not be redshirting. I think I'll be a second stringer, and then just go from there. But right now that's the plan between me and the coaches. . . . [I'll be playing] right tackle.
Representing Rockford: I live not necessarily out in the country, but I'm about 20 minutes from the town. So going to Ann Arbor will be a little bit of a change, but it won't be like going to New York City or anything. Rockford isn't one of those places where everyone knows everyone, but it's a quiet place. . . . Coach Hoke and Coach Munger [Rockford's HS coach] have a lot in common as far as coaching personality goes, so that will be nice that I won't feel like I'm going from one thing to the complete opposite. . . . The last time I went to a University of Michigan camp, he [Coach Munger] was there, and I'm pretty sure he plans on going back.
Coming to Michigan: To prepare I just keep exercising every day, trying to stay in shape, and I'm just really looking forward to going. I'm really happy and truly blessed. I'm a little nervous, too, but who wouldn't be? . . . I'm just focused on getting there and getting used to the system, and once you're used to that everything will just fall in place. . . . When I came to Michigan [as a recruit], my host was Russell Bellomy, so I'm looking forward to seeing him again.
Managing critical scouting evaluations/recruiting rankings: The ratings are just ratings to me. They don't determine how well I play, and they don't determine how I am as a person. Basically my goal when I get there is just to do my best at everything and try to play as much as possible, and whatever I get is just going to be what I get. The ratings are going to be what they are. They're not huge to me, I guess.
Breakin' Furniture: When I was little - it was when the Hercules movie came out and I thought Hercules was the coolest - my great-grandmother gave me a rocking chair. So I took that and said, "Mom, look what I can do," and I threw it against the wall and completely shattered it. . . . but no not recently; I've learned to be pretty gentle [with furniture].
Being the first recruit of the Brady Hoke era: No, I don't feel any pressure from it, but it's definitely an honor. I mean, Brady Hoke's just an amazing person all around. Aside from being the coach, he's just a great person. I think it's a great honor to be the first to commit to him. I'm excited. It'll be fun.