Up Close: Mike Mason

<I>Inside Carolina</i> recruiting writer Andy Britt is touring the countryside to visit each UNC football commitment. Look for his unique two-part profiles all season long. Today – wide receiver Mike Mason.

ROCKY MOUNT -- According to North Carolina football commitment Mike Mason, Duke, East Carolina and Virginia are still trying to change his mind. But barring an inadequate result on his upcoming SAT test, he will be playing football at UNC in 2003.

"Everything is on track right now," Mason said. "All I have to do is take my SAT, get the score I need to get, and I'll have everything done."

Considered one of the top wide receiver prospects on the East Coast, Mason can play his collegiate football practically anywhere. But for now, Mason remains focused on the next game.

The Gryphons (5-1) lost their first contest of the season Friday night to Tarboro, 22-16. Mason scored with 3:14 left in the game on a 25-yard touchdown reception. He finished the game with five catches for 82 yards and reached the 2,000-yard mark for his career.

Mason has five touchdowns this year -- three receiving and one rushing -- and 128 career catches for 2,005 yards (both school records). He has caught 17 touchdown passes as a prep athlete.

"Mike is having a tremendous year for us," RMHS head coach John Hammett said. "He is averaging almost one hundred yards per game receiving, and we're really trying to work him into the running game."

Hammett said Rocky Mount's offense is patterned off Wake Forest's, which has Mason being used more as an all-purpose offensive threat this year.

"We don't know that he will get the number of catches that he had last year, but we're hoping to get him more yards," Hammett said. "Our goal is to get him forty or fifty yards a game rushing. He got forty-two yards [two games ago versus Wilson Fike], so if he can do that and get some yardage in the kicking game and have a little over two hundred yards per game…that is what we're looking for out of him."

During Mason's intense recruiting process, that included inquiries by over thirty Division I schools, Mason made some intriguing observations.

"What are interesting is the coaches; they are like totally different people than you think they are," he said. "They can tell you something and tell everybody else something different. They act different -- the players -- everybody is different just to get that one certain recruit. You've really got to know who to trust.

"You just can't say you trust these coaches or those coaches, because not all of them will tell you the right things."

Mason said he believed the bond he has built with UNC coach John Bunting and his staff is sincere.

"I can talk to them about anything, and they can talk to me about anything," Mason said. "It's more than football.

North Carolina and South Carolina were the only schools that showed interest in him as early as his sophomore year.

"I got a few letters from (Lou Holtz), but I never talked to him personally."

Soon after he committed to Carolina in March, he said the mail started pouring in.

Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow…

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