Commitment Shaq Mason fits Georgia Tech to a ‘T’

Shaq Mason (54) plows a path for a Columbia Central running back during the state championship game last year. (Photo by Robert Fleming/Columbia Daily Herald)

Shaq Mason (54) plows a path for a Columbia Central running back during the state championship game last year. (Photo by Robert Fleming/Columbia Daily Herald)

Columbia (Tenn.) Central High coach Vance Bellew has had more than a few players recruited by major college programs. He said this week he wishes they all went about their business the way Georgia Tech did with Shaquille Mason.

Mason — better known as “Shaq” — is a wide-bodied, fleet-footed offensive lineman who helped lead the Lions to a runner-up finish in the state 5A playoffs in Tennessee this past season. The 6-foot-2, 307-pounder committed to Georgia Tech on June 12th during its Junior-Senior Camp.

“I give Georgia Tech and Coach [Andy] McCollum (Tech’s recruiting coordinator) a lot of credit,” Belew said. “They heard about him, they called about him, they came to the school and watched his film. They said they wanted him to come to their camp, he came, they liked him and they offered.

“They didn’t worry about who else had offered him or how many stars he had. I liked the way they went about it.”

The reality is, Mason did not have any other offers before the Yellow Jackets threw one his way in the middle of lunch during that camp the weekend before last. The website GoJackets.com lists him with offers from Clemson, Kentucky, South Carolina, Memphis and Middle Tennessee State. That’s simply not true, according to Mason.

Mason

Mason

“No sir,” he said. “I was getting recruited heavily by schools but I had no offers other than Tech.”

Mason, who has a 3.5 GPA and scored well on the SAT, said he had been hearing a lot from Clemson, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, among others.

There’s a picture on the Columbia Central High website of a pulling Mason absolutely road-grading a linebacker in the state championship game last December (I’m still trying to track down the photographer for permission to use it) and the running back breaking free up the middle of the field off the block. That, Belew said, is how the Jackets envision utilizing Mason, who starts at left tackle in high school but projects as a guard in college.

“We used him at both guard and tackle,” said Belew, who also played Mason at defensive tackle. “He moves so well we pulled him a lot to take advantage of his mobility. He’s a very good all-around athlete and very explosive at the point of contact.”

As for Mason’s recruitment, Belew believes it was really just getting started.

“I feel like he was going to get several offers over the course of the summer, just going by what coaches were telling us,” Belew said. “As far as the coaches that saw film of him and came here and saw him at our school, they liked him a lot. Some would like him to be a little taller. But he’s a 305-pound kid who is very athletic. To me he is a prize recruit.”

And Belew said Mason is still growing. He began last season at 6 feet, one-half-inch. He recently measured 6-2.

As for his courtship with the Jackets, it was quick. Mason said he hadn’t heard from them until McCollum came to one of his spring practices.

“I’ve always really liked Georgia Tech,” he said. “I didn’t really know that much about them but I’ve always liked the way the played and I like everything about the school.”

In particular Mason is intrigued by coach Paul Johnson’s spread-option offense.

“It’s a unique style of play,” he said. “I like it.”

And the Jackets like him.

102 comments Add your comment

Bulldog59

June 23rd, 2010
10:47 am

That’s called recruiting. GT found a kid that fits their system, got a good look at him, and made the offer. Forget who else offered, how many stars he has, etc. GT may have simply beaten everyone else to the table and stolen a gem. Time will tell.

rduck

June 23rd, 2010
10:47 am

Welcome to the flats young man. We are looking forward to seeing you pave the way for years to come. Congrats on all of your successes. Go Jackets..

rduck

June 23rd, 2010
10:49 am

Bulldog59.. Excellent point on the recruiting. We appreciate the classy comment..

Rogers21

June 23rd, 2010
10:50 am

Mason will turn out to be a very good lineman.

We_Run_This_Country

June 23rd, 2010
10:56 am

Shaq Mason will help us Run This Country.

JB

June 23rd, 2010
10:56 am

More diamonds in the rough than “BIG NAMES”. Tech has always done a good job of landing overlooked players. Wish him well except against my Dawgs.

Jacketman

June 23rd, 2010
10:57 am

Nice article, Chip, with some insight. With a good start, I hope people can keep their comments civil and relevant, like Bulldog59 did. Why not hope for 2 undefeated teams when the Clean Ol’ Fashioned Hate comes over us all?

We_Run_This_Country

June 23rd, 2010
10:57 am

Chip,
Thanks for throwing us a bone and writing a GT recruiting story. The kid will at least be a 3-start once graded. Shaping up to be an excellent recruiting class!

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

June 23rd, 2010
11:03 am

congrats to tech on the signing ! looks like he has the potential to be a monster.

Sleeze

June 23rd, 2010
11:07 am

Nice sugar-coating, Chip, instead of just coming out and saying that CPJ just snagged another guy that no one else wanted. Still, as the Jacket dreamers have pointed out, he may turn out to be a superstar.. But right now.. he’s no star..

Worm

June 23rd, 2010
11:11 am

GoJackets.com-…Hmmm, I believe you were just called out!

Reality Check

June 23rd, 2010
11:11 am

Hope the idiot fans will take the high road and not throw this kid under the bus like the UGA OL recruit. The reality is that know one knows how good the recruit coming in will be, at GT, UGA or any other schools. All schools recruit multiple OL every year because some just do not make it. Hopefully they at least stay in school and earn a degree even if they do not start on the football field.

destin dawg

June 23rd, 2010
11:19 am

If he’s a smart kid… with good size & speed .. it’s a good get for GT.. we all need linemen.. big grunts to mow ‘em down like a bowling ball !!!

TIZZLEJ

June 23rd, 2010
11:22 am

“Stars” do not matter at all. A kid may be dominant in high school but fail to adapt to the speed of college ball, and opposite, someone may be overlooked because he isn’t tall enough or doesn’t way as much and be a superstar. Ever notice how many 5 star recruits UGA gets that are complete busts? TOO MANY!

BigTimeTECHFan

June 23rd, 2010
11:34 am

Good pickup, solid build already in HS, but he does not look 307 pounds, which is a good thing. every play I saw him, he was out on linebackers quick. If he’s doing that at 307 in HS. wow, just wow.
From video I would have guessed about 245 lbs from how fast he looked.
Maybe he’s gained a lot of weight from last year, but if he was that big this major pickup for Tech.

Old Tech

June 23rd, 2010
11:34 am

I can remember back to my high school football days (yes we had facemasks) that at 6′3″ & 245 I was considered large at tackle. Today I wouldn’t be big enough for tight end. Of course my real downfall, even back then was 5.1 “speed” in 40. Too slow even back then.

knoxdawg

June 23rd, 2010
11:49 am

Glad to see classy comments for a change. Recruiting is not an absolute science we all know that. I don’t believe coaches come in asking how many stars a kid has or who else has offered. Coaches look at a kid and his talent, his grades, etc and make a decision on offering or not. Kid sounds like a good prospect with a potential upside. Congrats to GT for the pick up. I too believe nothing could be gretaer than to have GT and UGA both undefeated when they play. Great for the state of Georgia.

RxDawg

June 23rd, 2010
11:49 am

Shaq attack!

Grats bees

dagadawg

June 23rd, 2010
11:58 am

God I love the way you Techies can brag about getting a guy that no one else thought enough of to even look at. Go ahead and get a bunch more of these one star guys and gloat all over them. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people. I think you know how I wish your team to do.

Bulldog59

June 23rd, 2010
12:09 pm

Jacketman, we would both be “livin’ the dream” if we both rolled into Thanksgiving weekend undefeated, hoping for totally different results of course.

I was at Sanford in 2002 when UGA steam rolled GT 51-7. Although we won, the letdown was incredible. I hope I never see another one like that, win or lose!

We should be in for some great contests in the future, starting Nov. 27!

superDawg

June 23rd, 2010
12:11 pm

He is a good pick up for tek.He should fit right in with the chop blocking schemes tek runs!

lanier

June 23rd, 2010
12:13 pm

Columbia is a good program. If nothing else with a 3.5 he can learn the off.

Tech Rules

June 23rd, 2010
12:21 pm

Welcome to Tech!

The Sham

June 23rd, 2010
12:22 pm

YYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!! – good luck to the kid. Anything interesting to read about regarding UGA? That is who butters this column’s bread… only 20 something posts and it’s been up about 2 hours?

GoldenDawg

June 23rd, 2010
12:29 pm

Congrats kid. I hope you do well.

Dacula Jacket

June 23rd, 2010
12:31 pm

Sounds like a good fit. Good size and speed and seems like he can hack it in the classroom. Good luck to him.

Delbert D.

June 23rd, 2010
12:40 pm

Mason is a really good find, very mobile. Uzzi and Barrick are 6′3″. Ray Beno will be counted on this year, and he’s 6′1″. 1st Team All-ACC center Sean Bedford is 6′1″, 274. Tech’s “big” OTs, Barrick and Smith are both 6′6″, both under 285. Agility and timing are important in cut-blocking schemes.

76-Dawg

June 23rd, 2010
12:40 pm

Chip , When does Fall practice start for Tech and UGA.

Chip Towers

June 23rd, 2010
12:41 pm

76-Dawg: It’s always the first week of August.

Brian

June 23rd, 2010
12:58 pm

One thing that you can count on Paul Johnson teams to do is recruit to the scheme. Overall this year though we are in with some very big names. Congrats to Shaq, and lets keep the kids coming to the flats.

Paddy

June 23rd, 2010
1:07 pm

Reality Check, Sleeze took the low road on this. His handle might say it all. No class, no upbringing.

Sleeze

June 23rd, 2010
1:09 pm

Thanks, Paddy. Nice to see that you can get access to the internet at the detention center..

Paddy

June 23rd, 2010
1:12 pm

Super Dawg, I agree. He does sound like he will fit into Techs blocking methods. Great technique from those coaches that can teach it. Tough on the oposition. Wish Johnson was coaching somewhere else but Tech. His overall offensive scheme is powerful against most.teams.
Go Dawgs!

Paddy

June 23rd, 2010
1:15 pm

Sleeze, have not worked at the prison in almost 35 years. You have a good memory but your timing is off.

Sleeze

June 23rd, 2010
1:32 pm

Paddy, nice comments… now who’s taking the low road? As for me.. I’ll take the high road and congratulate you for staying out of prison for 35 years. way to go!!

Paddy

June 23rd, 2010
1:42 pm

Sleeze, I was not in prison as the states guest. I was running a state grant program for drug addiction solutions for inmates. You can call that low road if you wish. It was very helpful for some and very rewarding for me.

THWGT!!!

June 23rd, 2010
1:42 pm

Congratulations to what sounds to be a fine young man who apparently is a very good student also. Best of luck in the future, except against the red & black.

TIZZLEJ, yet those “complete busts” actually dominate gtu to the tune of 8-1 this century.

THWGT!!!

Delbert D.

June 23rd, 2010
1:50 pm

Correction: Nick Claytor is the other OT big guy at 6′6, 283, not Barrick who is 6′3, as I said.

Reality

June 23rd, 2010
2:33 pm

@Chip – Thanks for having a recruit article on Tech. We appreciate the brief updates between the bombardment of ugag news every day.

I love how Tech targets needs for the scheme first, and THEN looks at the talent out there. We don’t cast a wide net and run after every X-star HS player. I also appreciate how we look at the various aspects of the player – his gpa, values, etc. This will help to avoid the “dog-pound” syndrome where current players get arrested on a weekly bases as they seem to in Athens.

Go Jackets!

Vick=Dog killing thug

June 23rd, 2010
2:41 pm

Best of luck to the young man 364 days of the year. (tha’ts as nice as I get towards GT)

Gt4ever

June 23rd, 2010
3:03 pm

I can’t agree more, the star system means NOTHING! I wish this kid all the luck in the world….. I still contend that we will not compete against the major programs until we get BIG UGLY offensive and defensive players that play in the trenches. Still waiting to see this coaching staff recruit, still hasn’t happened! IMHO.

Gerald

June 23rd, 2010
3:13 pm

Tech fans:

There will be more recruiting articles on Georgia Tech when

A. Georgia Tech gets more commits
B. Georgia Tech gets more commits from 4 and 5 star athletes
C. Georgia Tech gets more commits from 4 and 5 star athletes who are from Georgia

Georgia Tech making offers to kids who aren’t going to come (not bashing GT, but it is a fact that schools over like 100 kids and only land about 20 of them) is not news. And GT signing a 2 star kid from Florida or North Carolina isn’t news either. Instead, signing local or highly rated prospects is news, and signing local highly rated prospects, especially at QB, WR, or RB, is big news.

Georgia Tech needs to make news before Towers or anyone else can report it. And if GT isn’t doing a better job with getting commits from high profile players after winning 20 games in 2 years, winning their first outright ACC title since 1991, and going to their first major bowl game in like 40 years despite being located in the most talent rich area of one of the most talent rich states in the country, then that isn’t Towers’ fault. Blame the coaching staff and demand that they do better. I had always felt that recruiting major prospects was the one flaw with Paul Johnson simply because with his background at small colleges and Navy, he has never had to do it before. And Johnson didn’t address that problem when he came to GT, either. He hasn’t hired top megarecruiters for his staff like SEC, Big 10 and Big 12 schools do.

jarvis

June 23rd, 2010
3:16 pm

Tizzle…check out the stars of your studs last year.
Dwyer, Bay Bay, Morgan, Burnett, and Nesbitt.

All studs in high school.

How are you guys doing in replacing most of that talent anyway?

Sleeze

June 23rd, 2010
3:19 pm

Paddy. My apologies for suggesting otherwise. Of course, my idea of a positive leader for young men would not be referring to someone as “no class, no upbringing”. But what do I know. have a good day.

Hunker Down

June 23rd, 2010
3:27 pm

Sounds like a great pick up for the Bee’s and beat a lot of other teams to the punch. Seems like the offers were fixing to start to domino. I think the jackets could receive dividends from his athleticism. Sometimes all the stars by a recruits name means nothing. Guy by the name of David Pollack was not highly recruited who turned out to be a 3 time All American. Go Dawgs!

Paddy

June 23rd, 2010
3:27 pm

Sleeze, all right then, back to sports, shall we?

THWGT!!!

June 23rd, 2010
3:40 pm

Reality – so you are saying that gtu athletes are angels? Get real!!! You most definately have had your share of problems over the years too. No need to throw rocks when you too live in a glass house, huh?

THWGT!!!

We_Run_This_Country

June 23rd, 2010
3:44 pm

jarvis – Those were 3 and 4 star athletes. The same as GT is getting now. I’m not sure I understand your logic?

Dan

June 23rd, 2010
3:48 pm

Often, the stars next to a kid’s name are a reflection of who has offered him. And often, those stars do reflect the kid’s talent. However, equally as often, those stars could not be more wrong.

As for Tech, they aren’t going to recruit a lot of the same players that other schools do because they (like everyone else) have limited resources and need to spend them on players that might choose to attend there and also because their offensive scheme is so different. Along those lines, Paul Johnson himself said that schools like Tech should do something different because you can’t out-USC USC. Bascially, lining up against someone like that in a standard I-formation is a good way to get you beat. So, it makes sense to go after guys like Mason who might not be on everyone’s radar because you have a higher likelihood of spending recruiting dollars well and getting the right player for your system.

It should be noted that Jamie Newberg and Scout.com have the same qualifications as I do to grade players. Not to dump on a guy, but look at guys like Israel Troupe or Richard Samuel. Both of those guys could have gone anywhere but they chose UGA. They both may end up being all-time great Dawgs, but at this point it seems unlikely.

Dan

June 23rd, 2010
3:49 pm

Jarvis – Bay Bay was a borderline three star guy. His only other offers were from Duke, Indiana, Louisville, and UGA.