Given an opportunity to pursue his goal of an engineering degree and his passion to play football, Mason Rhoads had no doubt in his mind when it came time to decide what college he wanted to attend.
On Wednesday, the Douglas High School senior will make it official when he signs a national letter-of-intent to play football at Colorado School of Mines. A signing ceremony is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in the Douglas commons area.
Rhoads acknowledged that other offers were available, however, Colorado School of Mines had the inside track all along.
“A couple of D-II schools made offers, South Dakota Mines and Black Hills State,” said Rhoads, who is signing as a defensive back. “I was in contact with Rocky Mountain College, which is NAIA, and then some D-III schools, but Mines was always No. 1. They were the first one to contact me right off the bat, so that left a big impression on me.”
Rhoads saw his door of opportunity at Colorado School of Mines open in February 2013 when Orediggers coach Bob Stitt sent an invitation for Rhoads to participate in a summer camp.
“I always wanted to be an engineer, and as I was starting to look into what colleges I wanted to go to, coach Stitt, sent me an invite to the camp, which was in June,” Rhoads said. “I did some research and found out it’s one of the top engineering schools in the nation, and that instantly triggered my attention. And when the chance to play football, that was just a plus.”
The decision only became easier after Rhoads took his official visit to Golden, Colo. — 15 miles west of Denver — in mid-January to see the campus and meet the football program.
“During my visit, I was a little hesitant about going there,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave here. I wanted to go to UNR with all of my friends, but then the opportunity to play football kept bringing me back. Then, after coming back from my visit, I was just extremely confident about going there.”
Call it the best of both worlds?
“That’s how I look at it,” Rhoads said. “I get to play football for four more years, maybe five, and get an awesome degree.”
Rhoads excels in the classroom (3.8 grade point average) to go with his talent on the football field.
“I think Colorado School of Mines is a great fit for him,” Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto said. “He’s a very intelligent kid with a lot of upside I mean, who wouldn’t want a kid who’s a 3.8 and plays football the way he does. I’m just extremely proud of Mason and I think he’s got a lot to offer to the Colorado School of Mines.”
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Rhoads had a good senior season last fall for the 2-8 Tigers. As a cornerback, Rhoads was credited with 67 total tackles (42 solo). Even though running back brings more glamour, Rhoads believes his future is as a defensive back.
“In Pop Warner, I loved playing running back, but then as I progressed through high school, I started getting a look on defense more and realized that defense is probably, in my opinion, maybe a little bit better than offense at times. It’s like there is more intensity on the defensive side of the ball.”
As a running back, Rhoads had 31 carries for 156 yards. Most of that yardage came when he rushed for 127 yards on 19 carries in the season opener against Reno. The following week, he finished with 25 yards on five carries. The drop, however, wasn’t the result of a demotion. It was merely a rearrangement of personnel.
“He started out at tailback, and had a great game against Reno,” Monfiletto said. “But we realized we really needed help on the defensive side. Then at the end of the year, due to injuries, he came back to play running back for us, Carson and then Reed, and he had a lot of success again. Mason has great vision, and you know, whatever he decides he’s going to be successful at, he’s going to do a great job.”
Did Rhoads expect to have any opportunity to play college football?
“Not really. If I would have asked me after my junior season, I probably would just have said I’d be going to UNR with all my friends. But then I got that letter from coach Sit, and that kind of like fueled me to work to maybe even get a chance to play in college.”
He went on to chalk up a big assist to his father, Mark Rhoads, for helping provide a solid foundation and for boosting the recruitment process.
“I appreciate everything my dad has done,” Mason said. “He put a lot of time into getting me where I am now. He was the one late at night filling out questionnaires to maybe 500 colleges between Division III, Division II, Division I-AA. He took me down to Las Vegas for a combine, when I went to Colorado School of Mines, he drove me there, 20 hours one way and 20-hour drive back. So he put a lot of time into getting me where I am now.”