ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason has a motto above a door where he lives in East Campus Village: “I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds it.”
The quote has been attributed to late civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy and more recently to former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and former football coach Lou Holtz.
Mason, on track to redshirt this season to create class separation between himself and starter Aaron Murray, says he tries to live by those inspirational words.
“It kind of fits perfect to what I’m going through right now,” Mason said. “That kind of takes some stress out of my life.”
Mason can’t be sure of what’s coming any week this season or next.
The plan is for the junior from Marietta to redshirt so he has better chance at playing time next year or the following year.
But he’s always on standby, just in case.
“If something were to happen to Aaron, it had already been decided that he was going to jump in there and play ball and he was going to be excited about it,” coach Mark Richt said of the plan for Georgia’s last game at South Carolina.
Mason considered transferring after last season but changed his mind after talking with Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
Now he’s lived through it for half a season.
“It’s been about what I expected,” he said. “Just always trying to stay ready, which really hasn’t changed throughout my whole career. Most kids get the redshirt and they get to take the year off, but I don’t. I’m traveling with the team and at any moment coach Bobo’s told me I could have to go in. I put in all the work, but I’m hoping I don’t get the reward, which is weird and stinks. I am where I’m at.”
Mason still works as the second-team quarterback in practice, but is not getting the workload he did last year.
“He’s been doing a good job,” Bobo said. “Constantly working on his craft, getting better. I’m really proud of how he’s handled things and worked to get better.”
Said Richt: “He’s getting a lot of reps still. We still believe he’s our No. 2 quarterback.”
This year, Christian LeMay and Parker Welch also takes snaps with the No. 2 offense.
“The bigger the game, the more reps I get,” Mason said.
None have been bigger so far than South Carolina, a top-10 matchup with big SEC East implications.
“We’ll decide on a week to week basis if he would jump in or not depending on what would happen with Murray,” Richt said.
Mason, 27 of 47 for 356 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons, says he’s a better quarterback now than last year because he has a better grasp on the offense. But he probably won’t show that Saturday at Kentucky or anywhere this season.
“I don’t just kind of halfway know it,” Mason said. “I know the whole thing like the back of my hand. My confidence in myself has grown. I’m more of a coach on the field now then I was maybe the first year or even last year. Now I can tell guys where to go. I have a whole lot more responsibility on myself that coach Bobo puts on me and Aaron to check plays.”
Murray still has one year of eligibility remaining after this year.
Asked before the 35-7 loss to South Carolina whether he thinks Murray will be back for his senior season if healthy, Mason thought about the question before answering: “Yeah, I do, but I don’t know. It really probably depends on how he continues to do … or how far we go and also really depends on how other guys across the country do.”
That would presumably keep Mason from the starting job until his senior season in 2014 when Camden County quarterback Brice Ramsey would be in his second year in the program.
Would Mason be OK being a one-year starter like D.J. Shockley or Joe Cox?
“That’s not something I have really thought about yet,” he said. “I don’t think now would be the time to answer that either. I think that would be kind of selfish.”
For now, Mason waits in case his team needs him.
“I worry about what I can control and that’s my effort and my attitude and how I prepare,” he said, “and to be ready when my name gets called.”