While tossing a football around the back yard in eighth grade, Mason Zimmerman would crouch down and snap the ball to his best friend, Jacob Yunker, who lined up as the quarterback.
The duo developed a connection and Zimmerman, a former tackle, went on to snap for Yunker that season and at Anthony Wayne High School in Whitehouse, Ohio.
Three years later, Zimmerman has honed his craft and earned a scholarship to play for the Terps.
Zimmerman had offers from Toledo, Marshall, Air Force and Cincinnati, but orally committed to Maryland on Sunday after visiting the school on June 8. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound center felt comfortable with the coaching staff and said the campus felt like home.
“Maryland was a place that really stuck with me,” Zimmerman said. “I really liked it there. I kind of wanted to go back right after I left. It was on my mind all the time after I visited.”
Anthony Wayne coach Craig Smith said Zimmerman is capable of playing guard but that he thrives at center. He rarely makes mistakes and excels at controlling the line of scrimmage.
Snapping is a specialty many players struggle to perfect, but Zimmerman is pretty close to mistake-free, Smith said.
“He’s spot on,” Smith said without hesitation. “He’s very good at it.”
Zimmerman said he really hit it off with Terps offensive line coach Greg Studrawa at camp last week. Studrawa’s sense of humor, coupled with his vast knowledge of the position, intrigued Zimmerman and helped hook him to Maryland.
Former Anthony Wayne and All-ACC punter Travis Baltz had a positive experience at Maryland, which helped convince Smith that Zimmerman will thrive at the school as well. Zimmerman was also considering Northwestern and Illinois, but was convinced that Maryland was the better fit.
“I would definitely say coming into the Big Ten, with us obviously from Ohio, upped the ante a little bit with what Maryland had to offer,” Smith said.
For now, Zimmerman is trying not to get caught up in the excitement of going to Maryland in 2015. He’s focused on becoming a better center. After practice, he’ll take 10-20 extra snaps until the process is crisp and mistake-free.
When he and his quarterback mess up, they have to run or do pushups. That incentive to not make mistakes always pushes him to excel, he says.
If he can do his part, that’ll help his team accomplish their goal of winning a conference championship. Zimmerman said the community he’s grown up in is extremely tight-knit, and that he’s played with many of the same players for years.
To win a championship with them would mean everything to Zimmerman.
“I’m not really trying to look forward to college yet,” he said. “I want to make sure I finish up my job in high school, and that’s to bring the school a championship.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun