Brad Davis has been a coach at Wolfforth Frenship High School for 22 years and has seen his share of athletes come through, but when offensive lineman Mason Walters moved to Wolfforth from Plainview, Davis knew he had a special athlete on his hands. Walters was 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, had great natural build and great feet.
Oh yeah, he was also an eighth-grader.
“It was immediately evident that he had the size and the potential to be the kind of player he became,” said Davis. “You could just see the quickness and the agility and the size at a young age and he's just developed through hard work.”
Walters has not only developed his skill, but also his stature. Walters now stands at 6-foot-7, weighs 300 pounds and has turned into a physical behemoth who will be suiting up for the Texas Longhorns in 2009. However, even though he is big, Davis told Inside Texas that Walters' greatest asset is his speed.
“For a guy that's 6-7, 300 pounds, the best part of his game to me is how quick and agile he is off the ball for such a big kid. He moves around like a smaller lineman and when he gets to you he's got the size and the feet and the strength to really move people around,” said Davis.
Perhaps the greatest example of this is simply the position he plays. With Walters at 6-foot-7, clearly Davis would put him on the exterior, playing at tackle, right?
Wrong. Although Walters does occasionally move around the line to “anywhere we need a push,” his primary position is at center. To be that big in high school and still play center, one has to be very quick, and he is. Walters excels at the position and is now one of the top-ranked players in the nation.
Where on the line he will play in college, though, has not been settled. Given that he has an exceptional combination of height and speed and he's the highest profile offensive line commitment in Texas' 2009 recruiting class -- according to recruiting rankings -- left tackle seems a likely destination, but the Longhorns have not specified a singular position where Walters will play. The Horns have, in fact, told him the opposite.
“(Texas offensive line) coach (Mac) McWhorter, he's a real neat guy, he told me I'd get to learn all the positions, which would make your stock that much more valuable if you did make it to the NFL,” Walters told IT. “So, I plan on learning every position and whichever one he decides to put me at, I'll give it a shot.”
However, Walters does have a preference.
“There's nothing I'd love more than to play tackle,” said Walters. “There's something about being out there, one-on-one with supposedly the best player on the other team's defense.”
Walters did clarify that it's only a preference and he'll make no demands when it comes to his position in college.
“It's whatever they need me to do. It's not going to be a big issue to me,” said Walters.
Wherever he plays, Davis said Walters is going to fit perfectly because of the style in which he plays. According to Davis, Walters reads defenses well -- one of the reasons he plays a lot of center in high school -- and gets to the second level very quickly, which is exactly what the Longhorns need in a lineman.
“I just think with the blocking scheme Texas uses, he'll fit right in,” said Davis. “I think he'll take that part of his game to the next level in that zone blocking scheme.”
Davis also said Walters doesn't take a lazy step and is tenacious on the field...but he could even be a little too tenacious. Walters admitted he can be prone to mean streaks and said the greatest improvement he wants to make for his senior year of high school is in keeping a level head.
“I get mad,” said Walters. “I've got to work on keeping my calm and staying focused. You're not going to play good if you're frustrated. You've got the keep your focus.”
But Davis said that Walters' frustration comes from a good place and that, if harnessed properly, the five-star lineman's weakness could become a strength.
“Mason does not like to be wrong,” said Davis. “He likes to do things right all the time, which is a good attribute to have as a football player. When he does things wrong, they tend to bother him and he tends to get upset about it. When he harnesses that energy and tries to make a positive out of the next play, he's as good as anybody who's ever put on a uniform in high school.”
Could he also end up being as good as anybody who's ever put on a uniform in college as well? Perhaps. Walters still has a ways to go before he steps onto the field at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, but if he continues to develop as he has and harnesses the energy he brings the game, who knows what is possible.
For now, it looks like he has a great future at Texas in front of him.
See Mason Walters' junior highlights and decide for yourself how good he is:
Also...Inside Texas subscribers! Be on the look out for the next issue of Inside Texas Magazine, which will include much more on Mason Walters, including the pressure he had to deal with being such a high profile recruit, being so close to Lubbock and not choosing the Red Raiders.
Here's an excerpt:
...Walters lives in Wolfforth, Tex., a small town located just outside -- basically a suburb of -- Lubbock. Naturally, the Red Raiders hold a great deal of influence.
Wolfforth Frenship is a relatively small high school that doesn't consistently produce a great deal of Division I football players, but two of Walters' closest friends, quarterback Seth Doege and defensive end Ryan Haliburton, signed with Texas Tech.
Many fans took notice of this massive lineman coming up behind Doege and Haliburton, as did the Red Raider coaching staff. Towards the end of Walters' sophomore year, Texas Tech became the first school to offer him a scholarship.
That's when the pressure started. People began asking him, “When are you going to commit? When are you going to commit?” As far as many Tech fans were concerned, Walters was in the bag.
“For a while I felt confused,” said Walters. “A bunch of the fans thought I owed them something because I live here.”
The pressure didn't really pick up, though, until he got an invitation from Texas to attend a junior day event down in Austin. Walters began to show serious interest in the Longhorns. That's when the negativity was ramped up by some of the Red Raider faithful.
“You hear a lot of things around here. Lubbock is Red Raider country,” said Walters. “Some people were saying Texas pressures you to commit and that they'd pull your offer if you don't commit.”
But Walters decided to make the trip to Austin anyway and in February he went down for the junior day. The experience was quite different from the one that had been described to him by those who didn't want the visit to happen.
“When I went the junior day, none of it was true,” said Walters. “The coaches were very sincere, didn't pressure me and said they weren't going to pull the offer. They said it was my decision.”
Walters left Austin with an offer for a full ride to Texas and a lot to think about...
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