Former Georgia Tech All-American guard Shaquille Mason acknowledged he was taking a risk in passing up a secured spot in a lower-tier pre-draft showcase game for a possible slot in the Senior Bowl, but it worked out. Mason was to leave Atlanta Monday to begin Senior Bowl practice Tuesday in Mobile, Ala.
Mason received a late invitation last Wednesday to participate in the premier pre-draft all-star game, where he'll practice before hundreds of NFL scouts, coaches and executives.
“You do kind of get nervous,” Mason said of waiting on the Senior Bowl, “but I just put all my faith in the Lord and just let everything sort itself out.”
Mason, whose size and shortage of pass-blocking experience are among factors that may weigh against him as he is evaluated as a draft candidate, was quite eager for his chance to test himself against highly-touted draft prospects.
“That’s a big honor and a big accomplishment,” Mason said of the Senior Bowl invite. “That’s another opportunity for me to go out and showcase what I can do.”
After helping Tech win the Orange Bowl over Mississippi State, Mason returned home for a few days to Columbia, Tenn., to visit family, including daughter Kamrie. Following that, he began training for the Senior Bowl and Tech’s pro day in Johns Creek at Goldin Athletic Training Association (GATA for short).
Among his trainers is former Falcons offensive tackle Todd Weiner, who last week helped Mason with his pass-blocking techniques. Another transition Mason is the adjustment of his stance. At Tech in the Yellow Jackets’ spread option offense, linemen play with more weight on their hands out of the three-point stance.
“I think I’m a pretty good pass blocker,” Mason said. “It’s kind of different pass blocking out of pro style than in the triple option because of the footwork, but it’s definitely an easy adjustment.”
Playing with more weight on his feet than his hands, Mason said, actually enables to get out of his stance to pass block more quickly.
“I definitely want to show my pass blocking ability in one-on-one, first and foremost,” he said.
He figures that’s where the questions from scouts will be. The run blocking, he said, “will take care of itself.”
Playing in the Senior Bowl as opposed to the Medal of Honor Bowl gave Mason’s body time to recuperate and also allowed him training time with Weiner. Mason said that he learned through Atlanta-based agent Ryan Rubin that the Senior Bowl was interested in adding him to the roster, but that he was essentially on a waiting list. He found out that he was invited when friends tweeting at him after the Senior Bowl made the announcement to add Mason from its Twitter account.
“It was nerve-wracking, me declining the game and seeing what else happened,” he said. “If it wouldn’t have come, I wouldn’t have gotten frustrated or anything. I would have just kept training, trying to get better.”
He has also used the time to scout out his competition at the Senior Bowl, the defensive tackles on the South and North teams. The South team includes two players he faced this season, former Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and former Mississippi State defensive tackle Kaleb Eulls. He isn’t concerned with draft stock or being overlooked.
“I don’t think about it that way,” Mason said. “The way I see it, if I go out and perform the way I’m capable of doing, then the rest’ll take care of itself.”