MADISON – Henry Mason has played an integral role in the Wisconsin football program – often behind the scenes – for almost three decades.
Mason coached UW’s wide receivers from 1995 through 2006 until suffering a severe spinal cord injury from a fall at home in June 2007.
After a lengthy recovery, Mason transitioned to a front office position working with NFL personnel and high school coaches, beginning with the 2009 season.
Although he never fully recovered from his injury, Mason was a regular during UW’s annual Pro Day when scouts would come to Madison to evaluate players for the upcoming draft.
Almost two dozen scouts on Thursday shared coffee and doughnuts with Mason, who is retiring.
“Best thing we’ve seen so far during pro-day season,” Jim Nagy, executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, wrote on Twitter. “21 NFL scouts met at coffee shop in Madison prior to @BadgerFootball pro-day to honor longtime UW pro liaison Henry Mason. One of most well-liked & respected men in CFB among NFL scouting community. Enjoy retirement, Henry!”
Mason, 66, is from Marshall, Missouri.
He began his coaching career in 1979 as an assistant at Lexington High School in Missouri. After two seasons at Lexington, he served as an assistant for one season (1981) at Baker University in Kansas and then served as the head coach at Smith-Cotton High School in Missouri from 1982 through 1990. He joined the UW staff after coaching wide receivers at Western Michigan from 1991 through 1994.
During his time at UW, Mason helped develop wide receivers such as Lee Evans, Brandon Williams, Chris Chambers and Tony Simmons.
Evans is No. 1 in program history in receiving yards (3,468), receiving touchdowns in a season (13) and overall receiving touchdowns (27). Williams is tied with Jared Abbrederis for the No. 1 mark in program history in catches (202) and is third in receiving yards (2,924). Chambers is seventh in receiving yards (2,004). Simmons is eighth in receiving yards (1,991) and tied for second with Abbrederis in receiving touchdowns (23).
Mason was respected by UW players, high school coaches and NFL scouts.
“One of the best in the game,” Kyle Jefferson, who played wide receiver at UW from 2007 through 2010, wrote on Twitter.
Mason was also credited with one of the more memorable offensive calls during his time at UW, in the 2005 Big Ten opener.
The Badgers trailed visiting Michigan, 20-16, and faced third and goal from the 4 in the final minute. Mason, who noticed Michigan defenders had been bailing out from near the line of scrimmage at the snap, suggested a quarterback draw.
John Stocco, not the most nimble of runners, got outstanding blocking and weaved his way through traffic for the game-winning touchdown with 24 seconds left.
“I was second-guessing the call,” said Stocco, who started at quarterback from 2004 through ’06 and played in 39 games overall. “I can’t even remember what we actually called for the play, because we never ran it.”
Barry Alvarez, the head coach at the time, said: “We drew one up in the dirt. Henry said we’ll walk in on a quarterback draw.”
Mason made the right call that night at Camp Randall Stadium to help UW defeat Michigan. It was but one of his many contributions to the program.
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