Another JUCO DL interested in Huskies

<b>Matt Mason</b> had a choice. The 6-5, 263-pound defensive end could accept a scholarship offer to the local school that once had forgotten about him, or he could enroll at a junior college and start on another path that could eventually lead him to a better situation.

He chose the latter. And it's a decision he hasn't regretted for one second. "I went to Paradise Valley for my first three years of high school, then went to Chaparral for my final year," Mason told last night, explaining his circuitous route to Glendale. "I had an offer from ASU, but decided to go to Glendale instead. Basically, my coach at PV (Paradise Valley) didn't like me, so when I transferred he badmouthed me to the ASU coaches. Then when I went to Chaparral, the ASU coaches came back and said, 'He's so good,' and all of that, but by then I just decided that I wanted to eventually get out of Arizona. I had talked to the Glendale coaches and really got a good feeling from them, so that's where I decided to go."

All Mason has done since enrolling is help the Gauchos win the national JC championship game, beating Garden City last year. "I ended up second on the team in sacks and was also named 2nd team All-ACCAC, which is for all the JC's in Arizona," Matt said. "The first team guy ended up going to Florida State."

While Mason strictly plays defensive end, he quickly adds, "I could have been the long snapper if I wanted to." With a 4.6 40, 340-pound bench and 290-pound power clean, it's his versatility and athleticism that has gotten him noticed in the D1 ranks.

But it's also his tenacity and style of play that has Matt near the top of a lot of college coaches' wish lists.

"We finished our season last week," said Mason. "We ended up 5-5. It wasn't as good as I thought it would be. We returned a lot of guys, but we lost most of our receivers and linebackers, so I knew that we could be good. Then we lost our #1 and #2 QB's, and our 3rd string QB hadn't really taken any snaps all year, so it was all on the defense to get the job done, and I think we did well. We never lost by more than a touchdown, and we played teams like Ricks really close, and even beat Dixie, who was ranked #1 at the time."

Mason will not be available for Spring practice, no matter where he signs. "I'm going to stay until May, so I'll miss spring practices," he said. "I'll have 3 to play 2. I'll sign in February. I don't know when I'll make my commitment. A lot will depend on when I set up my trips."

As of right now, South Carolina is Matt's only scheduled trip. He's expected there on January 25th. He also is planning on visiting Washington ("I'm going to set it up as soon as I talk to Coach Axman.") and the Michigan State Spartans.

He currently has offers from Colorado, South Carolina, Washington, Southern Mississippi, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn and New Mexico.

Washington is piquing his interest for two reasons. Coach and climate. "Well, Coach Neuheisel is an Arizona native, so he knows what I'm going through when it comes to the heat. I want to get out of Arizona and it's beautiful up there in Seattle. I don't mind the rain at all. They've been telling me that I'm pretty much their #1 guy and that they love how I really get after it. I led the team in sacks this year (11.5), but we played mostly running teams, so that kind of screwed up my stats."

Mason is considered a heady player. "I just go as hard as possible on every play," he said. "I do research on all the linemen I go up against, their techniques, what they like to do, stuff like that."

Although it looks like the Dawgs and Gamecocks are in the drivers' seat for Mason's services, he isn't revealing his cards just yet. He did let us know what his criteria is for choosing a school. "Playing time will be a big factor, because I will only have 3 to play 2, so I have to make the most out of my time," said Matt. "Also, the education. I need to make sure everything is taken care of, a full scholarship." Top Stories