ATLANTA — It’s one thing for prep football recruits to have the luxury of choosing from multiple schools on National Signing Day.
It’s a completely different experience — dare we say, frightening — for a touted recruit to be left at the proverbial altar roughly 36 hours before Signing Day, without any other offers on the table.
Meet Grayson High School (Loganville, Ga.) standout Dimetrios Mason. On Monday, the wide receiver was content with his verbal commitment to the University of South Alabama, a novice program directed by Joey Jones, one of the rising stars in college coaching.
But things unraveled — quickly — a day later, when Mason learned that his scholarship offer to South Alabama had suddenly became unavailable.
“I had verbally committed to South Alabama. (Missouri) thought I was done for, already committed,” said Mason. “So, (on Tuesday), South Alabama had gotten someone else, I guess. They just dropped me, left me for nowhere.”
Prior to the verbal declaration of joining USA, Mason had been heartily recruited by schools like Indiana, Maryland and Georgia State. But those programs had also moved on from the Loganville, Ga. native once he committed to the Jaguars.
In an instant, or 24-hour period of teen torture, Mason had morphed from a coveted commodity in different regions into the legal-citizenship equivalent of a person without a country.
Still stinging from the shocking news of South Alabama’s pulled offer, the Grayson staffers — led by receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Kenyatta Watson — sprung into action on Tuesday, stealthily attempting to find Mason a new home — perhaps Missouri, Indiana or Georgia State.
Or maybe even reconnect with schools that weren’t on Mason’s original list of finalists.
“(The Missouri coaches) said, ‘We thought Demetrios was already taken,'” recalled Mason on Wednesday, just moments after announcing his college choice at the College Football Hall of Fame. “The Tigers coaches were like, ‘Yeah, we’ll take him’ … it’s just a blessing for me, and I thank God that it (worked out this way).”
It’s worth noting: Mason displayed a wide grin throughout his Wednesday media interview, knowing the painful Tuesday hours of feeling unwanted, being in limbo had finally passed. But he wasn’t sugarcoating those old feelings of heartache, either.
“It was scary (being in limbo) … but Missouri really liked me anyways, and I committed on the spot.”
247Sports.com has Mason (6-foot, 170 pounds) among the nation’s top 260 receiving recruits for 2016. He’s also listed as the state of Georgia’s 159th-best player — a respectable ranking that still wasn’t enough to South Alabama’s liking.
(The Jaguars, who have only been playing football since 2009, finished 5-7 last season.)
But South Alabama’s loss has become Missouri’s unexpected gain; and as such, Mason won’t be very picky about his role with the SEC’s Tigers this fall.
“I’ll play anywhere,” beams Mason, when asked about his preference for playing wide or in the slot. “I’m very fast — quick off the ball.”
Mason’s also very fast at making life-changing decisions on the fly … with a little help from the Grayson coaches.
Jay Clemons, the 2015 national winner for “Sports Blog Of The Year” (Cynopsis Media), has previously written for SI.com, The National Football Post, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports.