When his big sister earned a scholarship to play Division I volleyball in college, it inspired Anthony Wayne football player Mason Zimmerman to do the same.
Now it’s Zimmerman’s time to shine. The mammoth offensive lineman, who will be a senior this fall, has committed to play football at the University of Maryland.
Zimmerman, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound center, weighed offers from several Division I programs. He verbally committed to the Terrapins on Sunday.
Zimmerman was already big for his age in eighth grade when his sister Veronica earned a full scholarship to play volleyball at the University of Memphis. She was a setter at St. Ursula and an All-Ohio first-teamer in 2009 and 2010.
“I've always been a really big kid,” Zimmerman said. “I was the biggest in our grade and school but I never knew I could be a college athlete. Then my sister became this great volleyball player and I looked up to her. When I saw her get a scholarship, I was kind of jealous of her. I thought she was the lucky one in the family.”
After last season, when Zimmerman earned All-Northern Lakes League first team honors, college coaches began to contact him.
“That's when I thought maybe I had a chance,” he said. “Then it really picked up this spring. I've meet a lot of good people and it's been a fun experience.”
Zimmerman earned offers from Toledo, Marshall, Cincinnati, and Air Force. He also took official visits to Illinois and Northwestern.
It was on the drive home from his trip to Northwestern that Zimmerman discussed the decision in the car with his parents Doug and Debra.
“I just said, ‘Hey, I like Maryland too much. No one will do anything to change my mind,’ ” he said. “It was Father's Day. We'd been talking. So I said why not do it? I called them.”
Anthony Wayne coach Craig Smith called Zimmerman “an outstanding kid.”
“He is a kid who has gotten better and better,” Smith said. “He was the best center in our league last year. He does a really good job run blocking. He's physical. He gets to the second level to block. He really hustles and he's competitive.”
Zimmerman has a 4.5 grade point average and plans to major in civil engineering.
“He is a smart young man,” Smith said. “Academics are really important to him.”
Two other recent AW players are in the Big Ten — Andrew Donnal will be a senior offensive lineman at Iowa this fall, while punter Jake Hartbarger will be a freshman at Michigan State. Zimmerman also is following in path of another former General to Maryland. Travis Baltz had an outstanding career as a punter for the Terrapins. Baltz was All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team in 2008.
“I talked to Travis to see what it's like to play college football,” Zimmerman said. “He said he loved Maryland and all the fans. And that was before I had been recruited by them.”
Zimmerman said he particularly felt a connection with Maryland offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, a Fostoria native. Studrawa played and coached at Bowling Green State University and had a long stint at Louisiana State.
“Coach Stud is a great guy,” he said. “He's really funny and knows a lot about the game. I also liked the campus setting. It felt like home.”
He wanted to get his decision out of the way before his senior season.
“It's been really crazy. It was a fun process,” he said. “But I wanted to get it done with and not make the coaches wait.”