Mason Fine still remembers the days of being a 165-pound, sixth-string quarterback when he first arrived in Denton.
On one of those days, Fine pulled out a piece of paper from his backpack and wrote down his plan. It was simple. Forget redshirting during his freshman year; Fine was going to start. Sophomore year, he’d earn all-conference. By senior year, he’d be an All-American.
Fine showed his plan to some of his friends and they laughed. Well, 9,400 passing yards, 64 passing touchdowns and a pair of C-USA Offensive Player of the Year picks later, and Fine has the last laugh.
“I’ve been on a good track,” Fine said. “I haven’t accomplished some of those, but dang it, I’ve aimed high and I’ve missed, but I’ve accomplished a lot.”
That’s putting it mildly. Fine has teamed up with Seth Littrell to completely transform North Texas, both on and off the field. The senior already tops the UNT record books in passing yards, completions and 300-yard passing games. Early next season, he’ll clinch the mark for most passing touchdowns, too. Far more important, Fine led North Texas to the winningest three-year stretch since Hayden Fry.
When offensive coordinator Bodie Reeder was at Oklahoma State, he remembers seeing Fine tearing up high school defense at Locust Grove in Oklahoma. But after getting an early commitment from another quarterback at OSU, Fine never became a priority. Getting a second chance to work with Fine at UNT was a huge draw.
“It’s a freaking blessing,” Reeder said. “He’s sharp; he picks up everything I put at him. He has a chance to be better than anyone that I’ve been around. Everyone in the country missed on him. He could play anywhere.”
Those words carry heavy weight. Reeder worked with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph at Oklahoma State and with two- time Walter Payton Trophy finalist Gage Gubrud at Eastern Washington.
In his head, Fine is still the same skinny college freshman who has to prove himself. But heading into year four, he has a chance to leave this program is one of the greatest to ever do it in Denton.
“If you’re going to be up here eight hours a day, you might as well be great at it,” Fine said. “I didn’t want to be here and just be mediocre. It’s not a cocky thing; it’s a confidence. I try to be great every day, for myself, but also for the guys to the right and left of me, because I owe it to my coaches and my teammates.”
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