Mason Fine, a senior quarterback for Locust Grove High School in northeast Oklahoma, learned at an early age that he had something special in his strong right arm. Recently, Fine was chosen as the 2015 Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year, making him a repeat winner of that honor.
“I guess it started in 5th grade, watching the OU Sooners on TV. I just wanted to play football at that point,” says Fine, a proud member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. “I realized I had a natural knack for throwing the football my first year of playing the game. After that my dad took me to football camps. We started throwing in the yard every night. By 6th grade I was throwing the ball really well – more advanced than what other kids were throwing.”
He set state career records for passing yardage (13,084) and touchdown passes (166). He finished this season with 4,232 yards passing and 53 touchdowns and led the Pirates to the state Class 3A quarterfinals. In his amazing junior year, he threw for 5,006 yards and 71 touchdowns and led his team to the semifinals.
Fine is also a threat running with the football. He rushed for 631 yards and nine touchdowns this season and picked up 514 yards with 10 touchdowns in 2014.
At 5’11 and 170 lbs. Fine is being recruited by several Division II colleges– including the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) and Northeastern State, Arkansas Tech and Southwest Baptist College – but his ultimate goal is to play Division I football. He has an offer from the Division I Oklahoma State Cowboys to join the team as a “preferred walk-on.” A preferred walk-on has advantages over a regular walk-on, such as being invited for summer camp workouts and getting free housing. National Signing Day for high school football players is Feb. 3, 2016.
“I’m paying official visits to these Division II schools, meeting with the coaches, and creating good relationships,” said Fine. “My coach keeps telling me that maybe there will be a Division I scholarship offer that will come later.
“I’ll just have to sit down with my parents and decide what I want to try to do,” said Fine, “I haven’t come up with an answer yet.”
“Mason has a great work ethic, his character, his drive – all of those things that would define Mason, are what exemplifies our program,” said Locust Grove head football coach Matt Hennesy. “Here’s a good example. Last year at the end of football season he asked me, ‘What do I need to do to get better?’ He’d just thrown for 5,000 yards, he was named Gatorade Player of the Year and he won every player of the year award there was last year. And he wanted to know what he can do to get better.
“I said, ‘You’re going to have to get in the weight room. You’re going to have to prove something to these colleges and these coaches. Your size is your downfall but there’s nothing you can do about that. I mean you’re height is what God gave you. You’ve got to show you can take the beating and all that.’”
“He did not miss one day in the weight room from the end of football season until even now, he’s still lifting. It wouldn’t matter if he got back from a basketball game at 10 o’clock at night, he’d go into the weight room and lift,” said Hennesy.
Fine not only excels in athletics, but also in the classroom. He has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average throughout high school and is No. 1 in his graduating class. He is looking forward to being the Valedictorian at this year’s Locust Grove graduation. He’s also President of his senior class.
“I just want to excel in the classroom,” said Mason. “If I’m going to be in school, I want to learn instead of just wasting time being there. I really wouldn’t call myself smart. I don’t pick up on [school subjects] real easily. I have to go back and understand what [the teachers] are saying, do a lot on my own and just really pay attention. I have to work hard in the classroom to maintain all A’s.”
He’s also involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “Christ is a big part of my life. God is always going to help me through the tough times and adversity. I have to have faith and trust in the Lord and the plan that he has laid out for me.”
His plans for after his athletic career “are narrowed down to two options. As of right now I’m thinking about majoring in Business Management or be a coach. I love the game of football so I can’t count that out – being a coach.”
“He has definitely overachieved and a lot of it has to do with character and his drive. Mason has a skill set that most kids don’t have. He can throw the ball better than any other high school quarterback I’ve been around,” said Hennesy. “Mason will be successful at whatever Mason decides to do.”