As a personal trainer, Hayley Brooks works with a lot of athletes. So when an NFL lineman told her that her son had the potential to be a great football player, she was both intrigued and supportive.
After spending four years at Cedar Park, winning a state title as a sophomore and becoming a first-team All-District lineman the last two seasons Mason Brooks is a Division I football player, continuing his career at Western Kentucky.
“You could see the raw potential from an early age, you just didn’t know if it was going to come to fruition or not,” Hayley said. “You have hopes and desires. If that’s something he wants, you dream about it for him, but you’re never quite sure if it’s going to happen or not. It’s exciting that it’s happened.”
It almost never happened.
During middle school, Mason went to a small private school and played six-man football. He was the tallest kid at the school so of course, he played basketball too. But he was more into theater and singing.
He transferred to Cedar Park for high school and has developed into one of the best offensive linemen in Central Texas.
“I was kind of overweight and I wasn’t very coordinated in middle school,” Mason said. “I was super lean and still uncoordinated and didn’t really know where I would fit in (at Cedar Park). And then somehow, I was gifted with all this coordination. Junior year I started at right tackle and I started to break out of my shell.”
On the field, his play speaks for itself. He’s been a regular on the offensive line for three years but has shifted from the right to left side.
While his play is loud, his personality is even louder.
Mason could be seen with his face covered in eye black, smeared all over after a long game. He remembers one time during practice when he got the team to clap together every time they messed up.
“I was so excited to see the other guys get into it,” he said. “Just getting to be around all the guys. The little things are important to me like the tournaments and the bus rides. The team element is such an important part for me.”
Mason stood out to Cedar Park football coach Carl Abseck for a handful of reasons, just one of them being his size.
Abseck said he’s a great kid and he loves his teammates and he loves competing and the Timberwolves are going to miss him because he brings a lot to the table beside his natural ability.
He also envisions him getting even bigger and stronger with the Hilltoppers, a far cry from the lean and lanky freshman that hadn’t play football on a regular sized football field before he got to Cedar Park.
“You can’t really teach 6-foot-6,” Abseck said. “For him, it was a process of physically maturing and he’s a very hard worker and a good athlete. With time and a lot of work, he’s turned himself into a good football player and I still think his best days are ahead of him."
Basketball is another sport that Mason loves, but he said it almost ended his career.
During the season last year, he came down wrong on his ankle and suffered a Grade 3 sprain. He spent the rest of the year in a boot and was fully recovered by the time his senior year came around.
“I remember sitting on the bench last year in tears,” he said. “I thought I was done and this was it. I remember looking at my mom in the stands and she said it was going to be ok. It was fear at first, but then I dug deeper and knew I could come back.”
He returned to the court this season in order to stay in shape but added he doesn’t mind dunking on people either.
“Mason is like a sponge,” Cedar Park basketball coach Blake Brown said. “He wants to learn. He’s got opportunities to play college football but he’s approached this season with the intentions of being as good as he could possibly be. He gave us a real spirit with his enthusiasm.”
Both the Brooks’ said Cedar Park has changed their lives for the better.
Mason said he was scattered as a child and had some bad things going on in life. But the coaches came alongside him when he needed and Cedar Park as a school helped mold him into the person he is today.
Hayley added that some children are focused when they are little and her son developed that work ethic and the mentality of winning a little later on with the help of the people at Cedar Park.
It was perfect timing.
“He’s 6-foot-5 and his personality is 6-foot-10,” she said. “It’s exciting to see his personality be rewarded in a big way. I’m looking forward to seeing him develop more as a player and a man. He’s bigger than life.”