Living in football-crazed Ohio, where boys are reared in the gridiron art as soon as they're physically able to pick up a pigskin, Mason Zimmerman has been involved in the game so long he can't even remember when his dad first helped him don a helmet and shoulder pads. The Anthony Wayne (Whitehouse, Ohio) recruit does recall that he started as a quarterback and running back, but that didn't last too long. By the time he was in middle school Zimmerman towered over his peers, and he's been digging in the trenches ever since.
"I remember I didn't like it at first, because I didn't get to score and that stunk, but when I got to high school I embraced playing offensive line," said the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Zimmerman, a guard/center. "And I realized you can change the game as an O-lineman, and really you can't win without a good O-line. So even if you're not making the headline plays and scoring touchdowns, you can impact the game more than any other position."
In a year, Zimmerman will look to impact the game in one of college football's best conferences. The Ohio lineman committed to Maryland on Father's Day June 15 over offers from Toledo, Marshall and Air Force.
"I called Coach [Randy] Edsall to let him know and he was so excited. He said it was a great Father's Day gift," Zimmerman said. "My Dad, he said the same thing – he was very happy for me too, and really both my parents were excited about my decision. When I sat back and thought about it, Maryland really was the best fit for me."
Zimmerman and his parents visited College Park, Md., for the first time June 8 for the Terps' one-day camp. There, Zimmerman had a chance to work with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa before touring the campus with Edsall and Co. It was Studrawa, though, who left the greatest impression on the recruit and his family.
"Just working with Coach Stud, it was a truly great experience. He's someone I can see myself playing for for the next four, five years. I'm going to be spending the majority of the time with him, and he's a guy I want to play for," Zimmerman said. "I feel like he can really help and prepare me in college, and maybe if I develop enough the NFL one day."
The Ohio lineman said he first came in contact with Maryland several months ago when then-area recruiter Andre Powell was taking a look at him. But in May Studrawa took over the Whitehouse area, and he's been in touch ever since. In fact, Studrawa made the trek up to Anthony Wayne HS a couple months ago and now speaks to Zimmerman at least once a week.
"Coach Stud is a football junkie, and we talk football all the time. But he's also a real good guy and we'll talk about other things like school, life, whatever," Zimmerman said. "He sees me doing big things at Maryland, and he thinks my athleticism will really help me. He doesn't think I can play just one position on the O-line; he thinks I can play all over and he can really use me."
Studrawa obviously resonated with Zimmerman, but there was plenty to like about Maryland. A high-honors student with a 4.5 GPA and a 28 ACT score, he lauded the engineering program (his desired major), as well as the campus and the Big Ten move.
"The engineering school is one of the tops in the country, and it's awesome academics all-around," Zimmerman said. "My parents loved that part of it. I know I'm coming out of Maryland with a great degree.
"And I'm really excited about the Big Ten. I'm three hours away from three Big Ten schools, and I've been watching that conference all my life… I'm really excited to play in that conference."
He went on to describe the comfort level he had with the coaches and how the staff embraced his parents during the June trip. Zimmerman said his entire family just felt great about College Park.
"My parents loved the coaches and how they were with us. We all thought it was like a big family there," Zimmerman said. "The campus was beautiful, the people were great and the entire staff there is just great to be around. Maryland is a special place, and everyone is really excited I'm going there."
Zimmerman came close to committing while on campus. But first he wanted to see Northwestern and Illinois, two other interested suitors. After taking each in this weekend, however, he still thought UMD was his best fit.
"I kind of had the thought in the back of my mind that I was going to commit to Maryland after I visited. I just really really enjoyed it there," Zimmerman said. "I definitely needed to see the other schools just to make sure, but I realized Maryland was the place for me.
"I mean, I really loved Northwestern and Illinois, but it just wasn't like Maryland. Northwestern and Illinois didn't offer me – they said they're still evaluating me – but even if they did I would have stuck with Maryland. Just comparing the schools, I felt best about the Terps."
Zimmerman is the second straight recruit UMD has pulled from Ohio. Tight end Andrew Gray signed with the Terps in 2014, and Maryland will undoubtedly look to add even more pieces from the talent-rich state heading forward.
"I think Maryland can be successful here. They definitely have a lot to offer at Maryland," Zimmerman said. "We have a lot of kids here who are hungry to play, and I'd recommend Maryland to any of them. It was the best place for me, and I feel like if kids here gave the school a look they'd think so too."
As for Zimmerman's role at UMD, he said the coaches haven't determined exactly where he'll line up. He said Studrawa said he could play guard, center or even tackle if that's where he performs best. Based on team needs, though, he probably projects as a center.
"The position really depends on what I prove and what they want," said Zimmerman, who will take an official to Maryland in the fall. "I honestly will play anywhere they want me too.
"For my high school team I play center. I'm a real big guy, I can move people around in the run game, and that's what I do best. Pass blocking wise, I'm always looking to get my hands into someone. I like to have a relationship with my quarterback, and I call him my buddy. My job is to protect my buddy and keep him safe the entire game, and that's what I do. I do need to work on my strength and quickness because in college everyone is bigger, faster and stronger, but I'm ready for it. I'm excited to get to Maryland and get started learning from Coach Stud."
Zimmerman Jumps On Maryland Bandwagon
TerrapinTimes Top Stories
TE Williams Dubs UM 'Team To Beat' Post VisitOWINGS MILLS, Md. – McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) hosted Canada Prep (St. Catharines, Ontario) Sept. 24. Terrapin Times was on hand to scout and interview Canada Prep tight end…
TerrapinTimesYesterday at 12:01 PM
Live Evaluation & Interview: Fofie BazzieCLARKSBURG, Md. -- Quince Orchard (North Potomac, Md.) cornerback Fofie Bazzie committed to Maryland April 3, and on Sept. 23 he and his teammates traveled to Clarksburg for a…
TerrapinTimesFriday at 11:44 PM
Bazzie Back On Track, All TerpsNORTH POTOMAC, Md. -- Before Quince Orchard's (North Potomac, Md.) game against Clarksburg (Md.) Sept. 23, Cougars' corner and Terps' pledge Fofie Bazzie talked about how he's…
TerrapinTimesFriday at 11:03 AM
TTDave's Inside The ShellWelcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.
TerrapinTimesThursday at 11:39 PM