Editor’s note: In advance of South Carolina’s contingent arriving at SEC Media Days, SEC Country is spotlighting each of the three Gamecocks players representing the program in Hoover, Ala., this week. On Monday, we examined defensive lineman Marquavius Lewis, and we looked at wide receiver Deebo Samuel on Tuesday.
Mason Zandi first endeared himself to South Carolina fans when he committed the summer before his senior year at Chapin High School, when the offensve tackle picked South Carolina over Clemson.
Since then, he’s worked his way from role player to starting right tackle, and in 2016, he’ll fill the all-important job of starting left tackle for the Gamecocks.
Zandi has played on the right side of the offensive line for a majority of his career. As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Zandi made his first college start as a tight end against Vanderbilt. He appeared in every game that season as an offensive tackle and/or tight end. Afterwards, the coaches named him most improved among the offensive linemen.
Zandi also played in every game as a redshirt sophomore, but most of those reps came on special teams.
In 2015, he was the starting right tackle in each of the first 10 games. A high ankle sprain against Florida sidelined Zandi for the final two games of the year against The Citadel and Clemson.
Looking ahead to this fall, South Carolina offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will count on Zandi to protect his quarterback’s blindside, whomever that may be.
“He’s got good athleticism. He’s huge. It’s almost like running around a house to get there, but he’s a guy that really has good feet and is able to change directions,” Roper said.
On Thursday, Zandi is slated to join Marquavius Lewis and Deebo Samuel in Hoover, Ala., as South Carolina’s player representatives at SEC Media Days. All three will hear plenty of questions about the difference between new coach Will Muschamp and former oach Steve Spurrier.
Zandi offered his appraisal earlier this spring.
“Coach Muschamp expects us to play fast, just don’t look back from that,” he said. “Just play as quick as you possibly can, get as many plays as you can and be as physical as possible.”