For a while there you couldn’t be sure if Hutson Mason was planning to play quarterback for Georgia or trying to become this country’s next great cruiserweight.
OK, that’s an exaggeration. But up until a couple of weeks ago the record-breaking quarterback from Lassiter High School was using boxing as a training method to prepare for his fast-approaching college football career with the Bulldogs.
Mason said he read a story a while back about a Division I quarterback who used boxing as a way to get ready for the football season.
“They said the arm strength that he gained and how much stronger he got in his shoulders and triceps and pecs and biceps was amazing,” he said.
So Mason decided to give it a shot. Back in early January he began working out three days a week at Triple Boxing up in Woodstock. The benefits, he said, were obvious.
“You’re always up on the balls of your feet bouncing around, jumping and moving,” said Mason, who did not fight other boxers but sparred with his trainer. “And your shoulders just burn. There’s a lot of ab work in it and most people don’t realize you have to have a strong core to play quarterback.
“It definitely got me in a lot better shape. It’s the most intense workout I’ve ever done. After a month of that I was in the best shape of my life.”
Alas, Mason had to give it up. There just wasn’t enough time in a day, or days in a week.
“I’ve stopped it for now,” he said. “I had to stop doing it because I had so much on my plate. I’m learning the [UGA] playbook, trying to keep my academics up, working out every day. It just got to be too much. I was driving all over the place.”
Mason said preparing to become a quarterback at Georgia is like a full-time job. The Bulldogs run a pro-style offense and it comes with the resident NFL-like playbook. UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo wants Mason to have the entire system mastered by the time he reports to campus in early June.
So in addition to Calculus homework, Mason is studying Bulldogs Offense, Volume One.
“They didn’t send me all of it,” Mason said of the enormous playbook. “They’re sending it in bits and pieces. Right now I’m learning personnel formations and motions. I’ve got a whiteboard at home and I draw up the plays. My dad will ask me things like, ‘what’s the personnel groups for ‘Houston?,’ and I’ll draw it on the board.”
Mason also has enlisted the help of a football tutor. Dave Archer, current Atlanta Falcons broadcaster and longtime NFL quarterback, has been helping Mason on and off the field.
“I’ve worked with him for a while now,” Mason said of Archer. “He spent 12 years in the NFL and Georgia runs a very NFL-oriented system. So he helps me a lot. He shows me ways to break it down and understand it better.”
Meanwhile, Mason hasn’t stopped preparing himself physically. He’s just changed the venue.
Now he’s doing a traditional football workout at Atlanta’s Energy Fitness under the direction of John Lewis and Thomas Flowers. Lewis is the brother of former Tennessee Vol and NFL player Jamal Lewis. Flowers was a defensive back and kick returner for the Bulldogs who spends part of his time playing Arena League football.
“What I’m doing at Energy Fitness is a lot different,” Mason said. “I do a lot of explosive training, stuff that tight ends and quarterbacks do. I do five- and seven-step drops wearing a weight vest, run a lot of cones and ladders and lift weights. It’s intense, hard work. I do it five days one week and three days the next week. Right now I’m in a five-day week and that’s pretty tough.”
At last check the 6-foot-3 Mason was up to 198 pounds from 193. So much for kicking back and gliding through senior semester.
“That’s all right,” Mason said. “I know I’ll be in great shape by the time I walk into Georgia this summer.”