The Next Step

Christ Presbyterian Academy standout Zaccheus Mason admits he'll be "pretty nervous" once he arrives in Oxford this week, but the talented TE is ready to start his collegiate career. Read about it inside.

While Ole Miss features sufficient depth at the tight end position for next season, head coach Houston Nutt still sought another playmaker to add to the fold when rounding out his 2009 recruiting class.

Enter Christ Presbyterian Academy star Zaccheus Mason, who finished his senior season with 435 rushing yards and nine TD's on 53 attempts. The 6-foot-6, 250 pounder also had 34 catches for 460 yards and seven TD's on the year.

Qualifying wasn't really an issue with Scout.com's No. 12 nationally ranked tight end, with Mason making plans to arrive on campus this week.

"It's feels great," Mason said of becoming academically eligible. "It's good to have all that stuff behind me. I can just focus on football now. I'm planning on going up there this week. I'm going to be pretty nervous, but realizing that I'm finally here and am living what I've been waiting to do will be a great experience."

Despite being on the verge of a drastic step in his future pursuits, the realization of being a collegiate athlete hasn't quite hit Mason.

But according to the Nashville native, that's sure to change once he lands in Oxford.

"Right now I just feel at home," he said. "I'm ready to grow out of that. It hasn't quite hit me yet. I think it will finally hit me when I get there."

A multi-sport athlete in high school, Mason was a finalist for Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee in 2007-2008, but will focus solely on football in college.

Mason held 30 basketball scholarships as a senior, and believes his experience on the hardwood has paid dividends on the gridiron.

"Playing basketball really helped me," said Mason. "When I entered football my junior year, there was a lot of hand/eye coordination and seeing the field. Basketball helped with that. All the things you would do in basketball really translate to football."

Ole Miss sent Mason a workout regimen to help keep the talented youngster in shape this spring, and Mason said he's followed the program by the book.

However, adjusting to the demanding workload took some time.

"I've really been sticking to the workout program (Ole Miss) sent me," said Mason. "I've been trying to figure out some of the new stuff lifting and conditioning wise. There's a lot of different things I've be working on, but I'm sticking with it.

"It's just a more consistent program than high school. You can just tell the difference between a high school workout program and a college one. It's been an adjustment, but I've been able to handle it."

Like all freshmen, Mason has set some goals for next season, but they aren't as lofty as some might expect.

"I'm really just focused on some small things," said Mason. "I really need to work on my flexibility and blocking. Those were really my weak points in high school. Anything I can improve on to help the team is what I'm going to do."

While he hasn't quite decided on a major, Mason is ready to get his first dose of college both on and off the field. Academics will obviously come first, but daily schedules filled with football activities soon await.

"I haven't really grasped that yet," Mason said of devoting everyday to his craft. "But this is what I signed up for. I'm ready to make football 24/7."


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