BOSTON (CBS) — While it will take years to fairly determine which team drafted the best player in this year’s draft, the Patriots can make the argument that they drafted the player with the best name.
That player would be Shaquille Olajuwon Mason, an offensive lineman out of Georgia Tech. That basketball-inspired name was one of many topics of conversation when Mason spoke to the New England media.READ MORE: Pfizer Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine More Than 90% Effective In Kids
Question: Where does your name come from?
Mason: I was born in 1993, so that was around [Shaquille O’Neal]’s prime. My mom was a huge Shaq fan, and she also liked Hakeem Olajuwon. She just gave me the first and middle names of them.
Question: What’s your mother’s name?
Mason: Alicia McGuire.
Question: What are your initial thoughts of being drafted by the Patriots along with some other ACC offensive linemen?
Mason: I was ecstatic about it. Coming off of a Super Bowl, it’s a great organization. I couldn’t be in a better place. As far as another offensive linemen coming in from the ACC, me and Tre’ [Jackson], we’re pretty cool, so that’s my guy.
Question: You played tackle in high school, you played guard in college and you practiced at center in the Senior Bowl. Where do you feel most comfortable on the offensive line?
Mason: I played guard in college and a lot of center training and stuff like that. I’m just going to come to work every day and trust the coaches to put me where I fit best.
Question: How did you get to know Tre’ Jackson?
Mason: He was actually committed to Georgia Tech before he went to Florida State. We met in recruiting and we’ve always just been – throughout college, we’ve always known each other.
Question: We saw pictures from your pro day with Dante Scarnecchia working you out. What was that experience like with him?
Mason: I had a great time working out with Coach Scarnecchia. He basically told me to keep working hard and my time will come. Basically, that was the most advice he gave me. After the workout, we went over some board work, film work and he wished me good luck.
Question: Did you feel like you left a good impression on him?
Mason: I did. I felt like I left a pretty good impression on him.
Question: Playing in the offenses you did in college, did you feel like you had to prove that you could be more adept at pass blocking at the next level?
Mason: That question always comes up, but honestly I don’t feel like that. I feel like as far as all that goes, the coaches saw what I can do. The pass protection, we didn’t do it as much, but I feel like the coaches chose me for a reason, so I’ve got to go ahead and prove it.
Question: What do you believe your biggest strengths are as a player?READ MORE: Hopkinton High School First In State To Drop Mask Mandate
Mason: I would probably say athleticism, lower body strength and strength in general.
Question: Other than Tre’ Jackson, do you know anyone else on the Patriots?
Mason: I do not, but Dont’a Hightower is from a city next to mine. He’s from Lewisburg, Tenn., so we’re both from the same area.
Question: What was your amateur basketball career like?
Mason: I played stretch four kind of, handled the ball a little bit, but was also big, so I was always in the paint. I had a little guard to my game, if you will.
Question: Did you play through high school?
Mason: I stopped playing in the tenth grade. Tenth grade was my last year playing.
Question: How do you feel like the offense that you ran at Georgia Tech might help you in the NFL? Do you feel like there are some things that you learned in that option system that could help you here?
Mason: Definitely. The physicality of the offense will definitely help me in the next level. I’d say that’s the biggest takeaway and the biggest key point from being in that offense is the physicality of it.
Question: How was it working out as a center at the Senior Bowl?
Mason: It was definitely a fun process. The transition wasn’t hard at all. I was actually training at center starting the offseason before my senior year because a lot of my coaches at Tech were like, ‘You know you need to start snapping,’ so I’ve been training at center for about over a year now. The transition wasn’t that hard.
Question: In terms of making calls at the line, is that something you’d feel comfortable with?
Mason: Definitely. I feel pretty comfortable making calls. I made the calls from the right guard position at Tech, so I feel pretty comfortable making calls on the line.
Question: You made the calls?
Mason: I did.
Question: The scouting report says that you are a little bit salty and tough. What do you think you bring in terms of an attitude to the NFL?
Mason: I always have a competitive edge. The salty and tough – that’s pretty accurate because I mean, going into every situation on the football field, somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. That’s my mindset each and every play, so I bring that to the table each and every play.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
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