Nobody would mistake Mason Hobby for the player tasked with protecting Cade Chambers’ blindside — the senior quarterback certainly didn’t when he moved to Maryville four years ago and introduced himself to his new teammate.
“I asked him what position he played, and when he said offensive lineman, I said, ‘What? No you don’t. Stop playing with me,’” Chambers told The Daily Times. “I thought everybody was just messing around with me.”
It was a typical case of judging a book by its cover, one the slender Hobby has likely endured countless times during his playing career.
With that comes a hint of doubt, but it doesn’t take long for the 6-foot-4, 190-pound tackle to dispel that once he steps on the field.
“The coaches were surprised that I was so confident in his ability, but I had seen him as a freshman and as a sophomore and knew that he would be a valuable part of what we do because of his ability to put his body in the right position and his intelligence on the field,” Maryville offensive line coach Brandon Waters said. “I knew the type of player he would be, and I think his play has spoken to that.”
Hobby has become an integral part of a reliable offensive line and will be tasked with slowing Division-I prospect Aaron Moore when Maryville (13-0) faces Oakland (13-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in the Class 6A semifinals.
A blend of footwork, body position and an ability to stay engaged with defenders comprises the impeccable technique that defines Hobby. It is what allows him to keep Chambers upright, enabling him to throw for 1,858 yards and 29 touchdowns en route to being named a 2019 Tennessee Titans Mr. Football semifinalist, and open running lanes for senior running back and Tennessee commit Tee Hodge and junior running back Parker McGill to combine for 1,934 yards.
“My coaches have always helped me with technique and making sure I do the right things,” Hobby said. “They made sure I was technically sound so that I, as an undersized lineman, could get it done.
“They always had trust in me, and that goes a long way.”
“He finds a way to get the job done,” Maryville coach Derek Hunt added, “And he’s made it to where we can’t help but play him.”
Hobby combines that technique with “a huge heart,” which stems from his diminutive stature compared to his peers — Maryville’s four other offensive linemen weigh an average of 267.5 pounds.
It is a constant source of motivation, and it shows every time the ball is snapped.
“I don’t think you can be 190 pounds as a left tackle in Class 6A football and not have a chip on your shoulder,” Hobby said. “You have to play with a certain level of aggression and sharpness than people who may be a little bit bigger than you don’t have to.”
Hobby may never look like an All-State left tackle, but he plays like one. Nobody is happier about that than the signal caller who couldn’t believe he was an offensive lineman and the coaches who saw his potential and helped him to develop into the player he is today.
“He takes coaching and he’s intelligent enough to apply it to the football field,” Waters said. “He’s confident and he sticks with it. At the end of the day, he’s a football player. He understands the game and he doesn’t get wrapped up in all the hoopla.
“He just makes plays, and I think that’s what you have to do win games — believe in those guys up front to make plays for you — and there’s no question that’s what he does.”