Mason Fine has those intangibles coaches love, qualities that conjure a flood of football clichés. Smart. Fiercely competitive. Tough. Willing to take a hit. Tenacious. Excels under pressure. A natural leader.
Missing from that list are the measureables coaches desire. He isn’t big, standing 5‑foot‑11 and 190 pounds. He’s quick and mobile but not blindingly fast. He has a strong arm but not a cannon. For those reasons, despite setting Oklahoma high‑school records for passing yards (13,081) and touchdowns (166) and being the only two‑time Gatorade Player of the Year in state history, college recruiters were not interested in Fine. He was dismissed as a two‑star prospect and received only one FBS scholarship offer.
And yet, Fine is a two‑time Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year and this year was tabbed the best quarterback in Texas by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
Because all Mason Fine does is make plays and win games.
“He’s a football player, pure and simple,” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said. “If height was a factor, Baker Mayfield wouldn't be the first pick in the NFL draft. Mason’s that type of player.”
Fine accepted the offer from North Texas, a team coming off a 1‑11 season with a new head coach, and the Mean Green’s fortunes turned immediately. UNT went to a bowl game in each of Fine’s first three seasons. By the end of his junior season, Fine had broken the school records for single‑season and career passing yards, touchdowns passes and completions.
Before the end of his junior season, Fine broke North Texas school records for career passing yards, completions, attempts, and most 200- and 300-yard games.
9,417 Career Passing Yards - most in UNT history.
254.5 Career Passing Yards Per Game - most in UNT history
64 Career Passing Touchdowns - third in UNT history
782 Career Completions - most in UNT history
1,241 Career Pass Attempts - most in UNT history
139.46 Career Passing Efficiency - highest in UNT history
63.0 Career Completion Percentage - second in UNT history
13 300-Yard Passing Games - most in UNT history
North Texas Single-Season Records - passing yards (4,052), touchdowns (31), completions (324) and pass attempts (511) in 2017
“He’s the gun. He can do it all. He can run it and throw it. He’s a smart football player. That’s what you're looking for in a football player, and he has all of those attributes.”
Southern Miss head coach
“There’s no doubt he’s an arm talent. You start talking about the throws I saw him make, and then we go play against him and he’s so calm and collected and can make all the throws. He’s super accurate and tough.”
UAB head coach
“At some point, you just have to give credit where credit is due. That guy is good. Really, really good.”
Southern Miss linebacker
|1.||Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama||3,966|
|2.||Cole McDonald, Hawaii||3,875|
|3.||Mason Fine, North Texas||3,793|
|4.||Jordan Love, Utah State||3,567|
|5.||K.J. Costello, Stanford||3,540|
|6.||Brady White, Memphis||3,296|
|7.||Sam Ehlinger, Texas||3,292|
|1.||Mason Fine, North Texas||9,417|
|2.||Ben Hicks, Arkansas||9,081|
|3.||Mckenzie Milton, UCF||8,683|
|4.||Jake Bentley, South Carolina||7,385|
|5.||Jarrett Stidham, Auburn||7,217|
|6.||Justin Herbert, Oregon||7,070|
|7.||Tyree Jackson, Buffalo||6,999|
“If he was three inches taller, we’d be talking about Fine as a first round pick.”
“He’s a football player, pure and simple. If height was a factor, Baker Mayfield wouldn’t be the first pick in the NFL draft. Mason’s that type of player.”
UTEP HEAD COACH
“He’s really good. Even though he’s pretty short, he can see down the field well.”
SOUTHERN MISS LINEMAN
“I know he’s a guy similar to Russell Wilson.”
FLORIDA ATLANTIC LINEBACKER
“I love his tenacity, I love his competitiveness. Those are the traits you want to see in a quarterback.”
Old Dominion head coach
“You can see the fight that he has in him and the competitiveness makes him a good player.”
Middle Tennessee head coach
“He brings the confidence. He has something about him. Those guys are hard to find. You find a lot of players that have great leadership skills. But that player everybody loves, is drawn to and feeds off of, you don’t find many of them.”
North Texas head coach
Mason Fine is about more than football. He is one-quarter Cherokee and grew up in the small northeastern Oklahoma town of Peggs, 25 miles from the seat of the tribal government in the W.W. Keeler Complex near Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation.
That heritage is a source of pride for Fine and members of the Nation.
“All through high school, we were extremely proud of Mason and, more importantly, we have so many young people who look up to him and think ‘I can do that.’ It’s very uplifting,” Bill John Baker, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, told the Tulsa World.
Fine was exposed to Cherokee traditions, including the Cherokee language, by his maternal grandmother. Last August, North Texas began selling UNT shirts featuring "UNT" in Cherokee syllabary.
“I’ve done more than I thought I would with the platform that I have,” Fine told the Tulsa World. “I’ve been able to educate people in this platform. I want people to know more about our culture, where I come from and my heritage. It was a platform that I thought I would never have but since I’ve been down here, I’ve had an opportunity to do that and I’ve been proud of that. I’ve been able to spread, inform and educate.
Mason hopes one day to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
"That's what I want to go into after college, the political field and running for chief one day or studying indigenous law," Fine said. "It's important."
Watching film with Mason Fine: A peek at how the North Texas quarterback prepares in the film room
by Saad Yousuf, Nov. 14, 2018
The North Texas quarterback shares his story with Jim
radio interview, Oct. 18, 2018
Mason Fine: Once unwanted, now unstoppable at North Texas
by John E. Hoover, Sept. 19, 2018
An intriguing thought – Mason Fine as a Heisman Trophy finalist
by Bill Haisten, Sept. 18, 2018
Upset-Minded Mason Fine Is Ready For An Arkansas Homecoming Of Sorts
by Kolby Paxton, Sept. 13, 2018
G5 Drive: Fearless North Texas QB Mason Fine ready for big stage at Arkansas
by Chris Vannini, Sept. 12, 2018
Born And Bred: Mason Fine
video, Sept. 10, 2018
The 50 most important college players in Texas in 2018 — No. 2: North Texas QB Mason Fine
by Shehan Jeyarajah, Aug. 29, 2018
College Football Countdown: North Texas QB Mason Fine is the Best No. 6 in College Football
by Andrew Doughty, Aug. 18, 2018
Quarterback Mason Fine's heritage honored with University of North Texas T‑shirts featuring Cherokee syllabary
by Eric Bailey, Aug. 13, 2018
10 things to know about UNT quarterback Mason Fine
by Brett Vito, June 28, 2018
Meet the best QB in Texas: UNT record‑setting passer Mason Fine
by Chris Hummer, May 30, 2018
Tackling Game Day
video, May 6, 2018
New Orleans Bowl: North Texas QB admires Drew Brees for not‑so‑obvious reason
by Christopher Dabe, Dec. 15, 2017
Unlike the rest of the FBS, North Texas took a chance on Mason Fine. It got a sure thing.
by Chris Vannini, Nov. 16. 2017
North Texas Quarterback Mason Fine Is Having Himself A Week
by Kolby Paxton, Oct. 17, 2017
North Texas Riding Mason Fine's Deep Ball to Historic Start
by Andrew Doughty, Oct. 11, 2017
North Texas Quarterback Mason Fine Continues to Defy Expectations
by Kolby Paxton, Aug. 30, 2017
How Record‑Setting QB with Video‑Game Numbers Finally Landed FBS Offer
by Damon Sayles, Jan. 27, 2016
For credentials, interviews, photos or videos, contact UNT Athletic Communications:
Jordan Stepp, assistant athletic director