Post-season reflection: Cherokee Quarterback Mason Fine has record-setting year with Mean Green

Mason Fine, a Cherokee tribal citizen from Oklahoma and starting quarterback for the University of North Texas Mean Green football team, had a memorable 2018-2019 season. (Courtesy photo)

Fine has his sights set on a Conference USA Championship, a bowl victory and the NFL

Mason Fine, a Cherokee tribal citizen from Oklahoma and starting quarterback for the University of North Texas Mean Green football team, had a memorable 2018-2019 season that has pushed his three-year career into near-legendary status in the school’s football history annals.

Fine and his Mean Green teammates started the 2018-2108 college football season with a bang. And for the second year in a row, he was voted as the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year.

Fine completed 40 of 50 passes for a career-high 444 yards and three touchdowns in the season-opening win over SMU. But for the third straight season, UNT and Fine went out with a whimper after suffering another bowl game loss.

This time they got pasted by Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque 52-13 (after Fine popped a hamstring in the first half) to finish the season with a 9-4 record.

Though his season broke records, Fine reflected with Indian Country Today.

“Looking back on it…we underachieved. We didn’t win every game. There were a couple of games we dropped by being undisciplined,” said Fine, who is from Peggs, OK and graduated from Locust Grove High in 2016.

“Most of our games came down to the fourth quarter. In three out of our four losses, we were up by double digits at halftime and we ended up losing by single digits.

“Those games went down to the wire and we weren’t mentally tough. Looking back on the season there’s a lot we left on the field,” added Fine, who was on pace for another 4,000-yard passing season before pulling his hamstring in the first quarter of the New Mexico Bowl and having to sit out the rest of the game.

He finished with 3,802 yards passing. “We didn’t win our conference and we didn’t win our bowl game. Hopefully this offseason we continue to grow and focus on the fine details.”

Now that the football season is over, Fine his setting his sights on his future.

The success of the last two Heisman Trophy winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who both happen to be former quarterbacks at the University of Oklahoma, along with NFL Pro Bowlers Russell Wilson and Drew Brees, have proven to NFL teams that a quarterback under six-feet can have success the league. Fine is hoping a team will allow him to follow in their footsteps.

“I can’t control that but what I can control is what I put on film,” said Fine, who is listed at 5’11” but is closer to 5’10”. “I have to be happy about what I put on the field. Hopefully, teams will see that I can play at the next level and take a chance on me because I believe I can play at the next level and be successful. Hopefully, some (team) will give me the opportunity to try out. My dream is to play at the next level. The success of other so-called short quarterbacks is helpful. As long as they keep being successful that only helps me. It shows the short quarterback can be successful in the NFL.”

When asked about being named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year for two consecutive years while also being on the Watch Lists for Walter Camp Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award and a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award (for best quarterback in the nation), Fine responded:

“It feels good because all your hard work is paying off. I just continue to keep my head down and just keep working because that’s all I’ve known all my life is just keep working and hopefully things will roll in my favor. I’m lucky. I’ve been blessed and have something to show for it. Each season I go in with something to prove even though I may have accolades on my resume’.

“You have to understand that all eyes are on you, especially when you’re the quarterback, you’ve got to make sure you’re doing everything right and then some. Every day I wake up and try to make sure no one is going to outwork me and hopefully that will rub off on my teammates.”

Here is a list of some of his individual accomplishments as he looks forward to his senior season:

  • Career passing leader in UNT program history (9,417 yards)
  • Second, in passing touchdowns (64) current leader has (69)
  • First in passing efficiency (140.05)
  • Record holder in career pass completions (774) pass attempts (1,229) most 300-yard passing games (13).
  • Holds single-season UNT passing records for yardage (4,052) touchdown passes (31) completions (324) and attempts (511), all set during the 2017 season.
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