MULLINS, S.C. — In three weeks, former South Florence High School football star Michael Mason will be rejoining his Wofford College Terriers football team to prepare of the upcoming sophomore season. Mason has been away from the team since spring practice back in March before the COVID-19 pandemic put an abrupt halt to campus activities.
“It’s good,” he said of the experience. “It took some time to get used to balancing the school and football at the same time but soon as I figured it out we had to come home because of the coronavirus.”
In the meantime, he has been working out, holding down a job, constantly in video contact with coaches, spending time with family and getting in a little fishing with relatives in Mullins.
His mother Jessica Rush Mason is a graduate of Mullins High School and major influence that helped him excel on an off the field.
“My mom set the bar up high at an early age,” Michael Mason about his mother. “She meant that too because she would pull me out of practice.” The honor student graduated with a 4.7 gpa out of South Florence and majors in Physics in college with plans to become an engineer. He said it feels good to see her come to every game.
“When I come out I’m always looking for her,” he said when he hits the field. “I find her at some point because usually her, my sister, brother and my uncle are out there. It feels good watching them come out to every game.”
Genetics could also be a factor on the field as his dad Michael Mason Sr. was one of the leading tacklers at inside linebacker for the Mullins Auctioneers.
“I heard he was a really good player but don’t really know much about it,” he said. “I just try to do better and do me.”
The experience playing for the Bruins resulted in record breaking performances.
“It was great because we didn’t have that good of a record but I had good coaching,” he said.
Mason, a 6-foot-3, 250 pound defensive end has developed a knack for tackling and pass rushing over the years since he was cut from his middle school team in seventh grade. The North-South All Star racked up 122 tackles and 11 sacks as a junior and followed up with another 119 tackles and 12 sacks his senior season. Mason also managed to set a school record with a 99-yard rushing touchdown.
“I always knew I wanted to play football,” he said. “I didn’t really understand the game until my senior year and I’m still learning a lot now. Until then I just tried to make the most plays that I can.”
The production continued his freshman season with the Terriers as he got off to a hot start in 2019. Mason recorded seven sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss along with 40 total tackles.
Mason said he is ready to hit the ground running and has been part of team meetings.
“I just try to get there as fast as I can and try to work a move,” He said. “Our coaches teach us eyes, hands and feet as the three things to work on to be successful.”
Mason is up for the challenge at Wofford College. He played every game last season, helping the Terries finish with an 8-4 record.
“It was great winning the conference and I now I expect to get that now every year,” he said. “I was given a chance and I have a lot of room for improvement.”
Mason said he feels speed and length has been his biggest advantages on the field. His expectations remain high ahead of the Sept. 5 opener at Furman.
His advice to other late bloomers in athletics is to be coachable, listen and learn.