Mason Fuller attends Chicago Urban Prep Charter Academy. He will be starting on his varsity team for the third year. He is intelligent and has a lot going for him, but football stands the test of time.
"I like to be known for something I love to do. Football is my life. Even if I have a lot of problems, football is one thing that never lets me down. Never gets me back or shows me wrong. It is one thing that is the truth."
Fuller admits the competition for Urban Prep has not been the best, but that isn't holding him back.
"Maybe not, but I go to camps to show what I can do. I went to the Midwest Showcase, and some of the scouts and coaches ranked me number one as a defensive lineman.
"Last year I went to the National Underclassman Combine. I earned defensive lineman MVP of the whole thing. If I could improve my 40 time, I'd have won MVP of the whole camp. I ran like a 5.15, so I'm looking to improve on that. I need to work on my start. I'm a tall guy, and I have to come out of my stance with a bounce. Coming out with all the power in my legs."
He says Urban Prep has a number of good players, but his work ethic is second to none.
"We have a lot of talent, a lot of players. I work harder and go harder than everybody. I've been encouraged by my mother, my uncle, my grandfather and my brothers. I push myself to be the best. I try to work hard at school so I can play football. It's football all the way."
Fuller has three scholarship offers so far, but more will undoubtedly be forthcoming.
"I have scholarship offers from the University of Illinois, Kansas and the South Carolina Gamecocks."
What does he think of Illinois?
"Illinois is a very great school. I read an article that it's a good family atmosphere. I'm a very big family man. I love my family. The most important thing to me is my mom. It's a family thing, so I have a good feel for what it's like. Family means a lot to me, and that's what Illinois has."
Former Illinois running back coach Reggie Mitchell made first contact with Fuller. New running back coach DeAndre Smith has taken over that territory. Fuller likes him as well.
"He's cool. I've talked to him, and he sounds like a very nice guy and intelligent. When I first talked to him, I felt the family feeling coming off him too. Same thing I felt with coach Mitchell."
Mitchell is continuing to recruit the 6'-3", 280 pounder.
"He's at Kansas now. I still feel that family feeling. He still talks to me. He wants me to come play at Kansas now. I told him about all the things I like about U of I, and he said there's a lot of that at Kansas too. So I have a lot of thinking to do."
Fuller is somewhat of an enigma when it comes to figuring out his college preferences. On the one hand, he lives in Illinois and wants to be close to his family.
"I've lived in Illinois most of my life. My mother came here to take a job. My father's in Georgia. If my father had raised me, he would be my life. My father, my grandfather, my cousins.
"I'm used to not having a father figure around anymore. My mother just got remarried. My stepfather stepped in and does a lot for the family. I like him, he's a cool guy. He supports me in my football."
He says he'd like to stay close to home, with some leeway as to distance.
"Yes sir. Ohio State Buckeyes, University of Michigan, even Nebraska's kind of close to home. Purdue, Northwestern and Notre Dame are closer. So those schools are on my list."
However, he has two southern schools at the top of his wish list.
"I also enjoy traveling. The top two schools on my list are the University of Florida and the University of Georgia. That's mainly because I'm from the South. If I grew up in Chicago, U of I would be my #1. But I grew up in the South, in Georgia. So I'm a South-bred child. The U of I is one of my top, period. They're one of my top five. I love U of I."
There appears to be some confusion. Obviously, Fuller is not ready to make a quick college decision.
"I'll probably wait until the last minute to make my decision. Maybe not the last minute, but it will be awhile before I make my choice."
Fuller is a talent, so schools will be after him as long as it takes. He discusses his best attributes as a defensive tackle.
"I'm very strong, I'm fast and I'm agile. My main thing is to out-think the person ahead of me. Before I get down, I'm thinking of the first two things I need to do when I get off the line. One of them is staying low, and the second is what move I'm gonna use to get past them to get to that quarterback or the running back and the ball.
"I have quick eyes. I love to find the ball before I make a move. I don't move until the ball is moved. So I'm an intelligent football player."
Fuller hopes to major in Business or Mechanical Engineering. He has a couple college visits coming up.
"I'm taking my unofficial visit to U of I to watch spring practice. I believe it's somewhere between April 6th and April 8th. And then I'm taking an unofficial visit to Notre Dame."