Mason Fine continually checked his phone, but it never rang.
It’s been just over a month since Fine wasn’t selected in the NFL draft, which ended April 25. Fine graduated from the University of North Texas during that span after leaving as the program’s all-time leading passer. He also has more passing yards and touchdowns than any other quarterback in Oklahoma preps history after a stellar career at Locust Grove High School.
But being undersized at 5-foot-10, going undrafted wasn’t really a shock to Fine. He was under-recruited out of high school, too, because of his height, with UNT being his only Division I offer. Fine did expect to quickly get an NFL opportunity as an undrafted free agent, though.
“It was tough, especially (with) my family there,” Fine said. “I didn’t want to disappoint them or show a whole lot of emotions of being upset or anything, but it was upsetting. I just talked to my dad. It was kind of like, man, it was kind of like college all over again, just all condensed in one little evening. It was just like, man, no one’s wanting to call or at least give me a shot. It’s been rough. It’s kind of been like that for about a month now of very, very slow movement.”
About two weeks after the draft, the Arizona Cardinals called Fine’s manager, Kelli Masters, to schedule a workout for the end of June or early July.
“That’s all the drive you need is to know, ‘OK, now I know for sure I have something to work for,’” Fine said. “I’m just not in the dark anymore. It was good to hear that. It was a good morale boost and something to keep me on track and working hard.”
The date for the workout with the Cardinals isn’t set yet because of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has been Fine’s biggest challenge during the draft process — even more so than his height. The crisis forced Fine’s pro day to be canceled, left him unable to visit with or work out for teams in-person before the draft and left him stranded in Peggs after the draft instead of visiting team facilities to earn a camp invite.
“We just gotta kind of wait until things start opening up for me to start traveling to these teams and try to earn a roster spot or a camp invite,” Fine said.
Fine said the Philadelphia Eagles have also expressed interest since the draft but haven’t guaranteed a workout yet. The Eagles also showed a strong interest in Fine before the draft, as well as the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys, both of which drafted quarterbacks in the final round.
“I’m not giving up on this dream,” Fine said. “I still want to play football for as long as I can. I still got some things I want to accomplish. I’ve been trying to be positive. And I have been positive for the most part. When people ask, it’s still awesome, and I’m grateful for hopefully this opportunity at the end of the month.”
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A look at the high school career of Mason Fine
Photo gallery: North Texas QB Mason Fine’s high school football career in Oklahoma
Last season, while driving North Texas to a nine-win finish, he finished with 31 touchdown passes and a program-record 4,052 passing yards. Take a look back at Mason Fine's career at Locust Grove High School in photos, and read more in Bill Haisten's column on a possible Heisman candidacy here.