Sports Editor Peter Holland Jr.
With the national signing period around the corner, Mason Thrash, McPherson High’s starting linebacker and wrestler is making a last-minute review in the recruiting process. First on his agenda is the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl.
Thrash was selected to play at the All-American Bowl last summer. The game will be held at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, where the Atlanta Falcons play on Jan. 13.
— Mason Thrash (@thrash_mason) July 15, 2019
How did the fellow Bullpup get an invite? According to the senior, he, along with his teammate, Kaleb Hoppes, participated in a regional combine in Missouri hosted by Blue-Grey Selection Committee. After being a standout, he was invited to another combine at Cowboys Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. More than 1,000 college prospects around the country get to showcase their talents, but only 600 are chosen to play at one of the four all-star games in each region. Thrash was among the 55 senior recruits selected to play in Atlanta.
“Mason will be a physically dominant player on the field and during practice,” McPherson Head Coach Jace Pavlovich said. “He will immediately gain the respect of his coaches and teammates as soon as he steps on the field due to his play and attitude. We have not had a player participate in an all-star game like this before. I will be interested to see what offers will come from it. Kansas high school football is not well respected among college programs from out of state. If Mason competes at a high level against some of the best in the country, he will gain more offers.”
According to the committee, more than 650 colleges will be viewing the all-star game, which will be broadcasted on ESPN3 at 6 p.m. In the last three years, about 90 percent of the All-Americans earned football scholarships before or after the game. For Thrash, who only has four offers so far (McPherson College, Bethany College, Dodge City Community College and Butler County Community College), competing in the all-star game could be the opportunity he needs before making his college decision. “I hope I can make some highlight tapes or something,” Thrash said. “I know they have a running back that is going to Navy. They have some SEC commits, Big 12 commits. There’s a lot of people that are going to that game. That should be fun.”
As a Bullpup wrestler, Thrash is 15-1 this season. He was in the 195-pound weight class, but this year he bumped up to 220. Despite being ranked in the top three in his weight class, it was an adjustment for the senior being that he must face opponents bigger than himself.
“Being 220 pounds is different because you’re waiting for someone to mess up,” Thrash said. “Me being underweight, I have to be careful when I shoot because if I get caught under this 220 pound, and I’m really light, I’m in trouble.”
Thrash admitted that he struggles with developing athleticism. That’s why he chose to wrestle as a way of improving himself as a football player and an all-around athlete.
“Wrestling is the hardest sport,” Thrash said. “You have to have a strong mindset to get through wrestling. If you have a strong mindset in wrestling, it goes over to football and in life. It just makes you a better player and person.” Pavlovich believes the three-year starter has improved tremendously each season despite his lack of breakaway speed. Thrash might not test well in the 40-yard dash, but his highlight clips speak otherwise. “Just because a kid doesn’t test well in a measured test doesn’t mean that they are lacking in speed,” Pavlovich said. “Mason is a football player. Put a watch on him during a play running a ball carrier down and it will impress. He has a motor that doesn’t stop on the field.”
In his senior season, Thrash led the Bullpups with 90 total tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-losses, one interception and one sack. He made the Class 4A All-State team and was a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year award courtesy of “Sports in Kansas.” The senior captain is also a hard worker in the classroom as he holds a 4.5 GPA.
For three consecutive years, the Bullpups played all the way to the sub-state finals but would fell short. Thrash not able to bring a state title to McPherson takes each of those losses as a learning lesson—every play counts. “You can’t skip any little reps, and you can’t miss out on the details because that’s obviously what we were missing in the state semifinal games,” Thrash said. “If we paid attention to the little details I think we could’ve gotten through the semifinals and onto state and seven points is the difference, or maybe the three yards or whatever it was on the goal line. We just have to focus on the little things and push through, in which we didn’t.“
Living the dream
One thing Thrash hopes for is a chance to play football at the division-one level and be close to home. A childhood dream that might turn into reality as he figures out his options. Thrash made a name for himself; showcasing his talents in football camps during the offseason. So far both the University of Kansas and Kansas State University showed interest in the senior as a preferred walk-on but nothing official yet. K-State was Thrash’s last official visit.
— Mason Thrash (@thrash_mason) November 17, 2019
“I’ve always wanted to play D1 since I was playing on this field in my third grade,” Thrash said. “It’s not too far, only an hour and a half, and I have a lot of friends that go to K-State. I think if I go there and grind, get through there, I could play in my senior year.”
If Thrash signs with KSU, he will at least have some people looking over his shoulders. That includes his father, Denny Thrash. Denny Thrash lives in the Manhattan, Kansas area and works closely at the campus he works in Hutton Construction Company. Thrash idolized his father after his battle with alcoholism. Ever since his near-death experience during Thrash’s childhood, Denny Thrash has been sober for the last seven years. Something the younger Thrash admires.
“It was almost hard for me to see him go through that,” Thrash said. “He almost died multiple times going through that stuff. It’s a terrible thing but he figured it out. I think it’s pretty cool, and I look up to that. If you go through hard times and get through that. It’s a mindset getting back through it. “
Thrash could also reunite with his former teammates and childhood friends. Cody Stufflebean recently signed his letter of intent to play football for the Wildcats last month, while Gabe Hoover, a former Bullpup wide receiver, is on the K-State roster as a walk-on. Playing with Bullpup teammates brings back childhood memories from the days playing little league to being one win away in play for the Class 4A State Finals for the first time.
“I think a lot of it is those times on the field. We were undefeated many times when we were in elementary school. We made a lot of strong bonds out there. We wanted to be the best class and wanted to make it the state title game, and we fell short. We wish we can do it one more time.”
Whatever school Thrash decides on, he is grateful for playing at McPherson Stadium in all four years as a Bullpup. He left one message for the returning players as he moves forward to his football career.
“Don’t take anything for granted,” Thrash said. I know everyone says it but I remember right after that semifinals game, it didn’t feel real that I will never play in McPherson again. It’s really important to me and I’m going to miss it.”