Mason Walters is an intense dude.
He's also extremely large -- listed at 6-6 and 320 pounds as a redshirt sophomore.
In high school, someone walking into the Wolfforth Frenship weight room during the summer might have mistaken him for a collegiate player back to work out at his old high school. Not a McMurray State type of lineman either. The type that has chance to play on Sundays.
Mason Walters is an offensive lineman and that means that he's also supposed to be a nasty dude -- that's just part of the job description.
When he talks, you listen. Some people like to refer to those often adrenaline-spiking times as "come-to-Jesus" moments. He talks, you listen.
Not even Mack Brown is immune:
Mason has come-to-Jesus talks with me. And at 6-6, 320, you usually just say, ‘Yes sir.' He is very, very emotional. He's tough.
Everyone loves a tough offensive linemen, but Brown, apparently unprompted, took another major leap:
He reminds me as much of Kasey Studdard as any offensive lineman we've had.
Don't worry, Texas fans, those Hallelujah bells going off in your head aren't an illusion, that's the collective consciousness of the burnt orange faithful all crying out in unison, "It's about time."
Most likely with some additions not appropriate to re-print in this space.
Mack Brown may not realize the sacred name he just invoked. More so than more talented players like Jonathan Scott and Justin Blalock, when the Longhorns went through the lean years of having Chris Hall play every position along the line during a single game and Colt McCoy flattened on opposing sidelines without an offensive lineman in sight to pick him up, the name of Kasey Studdard represented everything those groups lacked.
It may certainly be simplistic in some ways, but when Texas struggled to run the ball, a large part of what was missing did seem to be mental -- no emotional leader at all in the offensive lineman meeting room (coach or player) providing that clear spark to the team that was the hallmark of Studdard's Texas career, built on everything old-school football folks love in the big uglies.
One of the most enduring images of the A&M game was Walters turning to Case McCoy and giving him an earful after the quarterback took a critical delay of game penalty on a 2nd and 7 late in the third quarter.
Walters declined to divulge the specifics of what he said, saying "it's something that is going to be kept between teammates". Suffice it to say that it included some elements not appropriate to re-print in this space.
According to Brown, a large element of the outburst was Walters, like any good lineman, sensing that the Aggie run defense might be on the verge of breaking:
He knew what we knew - Malcolm (Brown) was running the ball, and we were about to take over. We just scored 17 straight points. Things were in a great position for us. We had momentum.
The wind was huge. And if you didn't get points in the third, they were probably going to get some points in the fourth. That's why it was important when we took the wind in the third, we had to score points.
Instead, the delay of game penalty killed the drive and the momentum had generated with the team's first sustained rushing success of the game.
Perhaps as a result of how critical that sequence was and the fire which with Walters always plays, Brown certainly didn't think the outburst from Walters is something that alienated his teammates:
I think everyone on the offense understands. He'll get in those tirades, and he'll just go off. I think it was a great burst of energy that showed how much he wants to win. And he wants this offensive line to be tougher and stronger and move the ball.
The heartfelt outburst from Walters in the heat of the moment may have been better served in a less public venue, as Walters admitted on Monday, but as he said, he's a "pretty passionate guy when it comes to the game of football."
And Brown noted that McCoy didn't say anything to Walters after the big lineman's own subsequent miscue, which may have been a result of being a good teammate. Or it may have happened out of the same self-preservation that the head coach apparently practices.
McCoy did tweet that Walters owes him dinner, so they've apparently worked out an amicable exchange to resolve any potential lingering issues. Most observers would likely approve of the steak dinner choice for both the burly Walters and his, uh, less imposing quarterback.
Having lost most of his first year in the program to a stress fracture in his foot, Walters hasn't evolved into the bookend presence many envisioned when he signed, but he does provide the nastiness Texas has been missing, the emotional fulcrum on which the rest of the line revolves.
Walters may not be there yet. This Texas offense, this Texas team may not be there yet. Isn't there yet.
But you can bet that if a Baylor player goes after Case McCoy this weekend, Mason Walters will be the first one there to protect his quarterback.
And you can bet that Walters will be blasting through some holes on the Power O against Baylor on Saturday. That his success doing so will have an impact on whether or not the Longhorns have a chance in the fourth quarter to pull out another victory. Maybe Walters is that guy who leads Cody Johnson and Jamison Berryhill into the hole in a critical goalline situation.
If not, Walters will have two more seasons of eligibility to take out the accumulated aggression on some other, less fortunate opponent.
Perhaps even as part of a line that does the same.