December 9, 2010

Monheim ultra-productive

Any player that racks up 190 tackles in one season is going to draw plenty of interest from college football coaches.

That's the case for Orrville, Ohio junior linebacker Mason Monheim, who collected a verbal offer from Illinois about a month ago and has heard from several other major college programs including Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan.

"It was good to get that first (offer) out of the way and my first one being from the Big Ten was exciting," said the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder of the Illinois offer. "It was surprising too. I didn't have much contact with them beforehand, but they called my coach at the school and did it over the phone."

During the season, Monheim visited Nebraska, Cincinnati and Michigan for games and he'll be visiting Ohio State this month to watch one of the Buckeyes' bowl practices.

Monheim hopes Ohio State continues to show interest.

"From my point of view, I have a lot of interest, but it's more of their interest in me," he said. "They seem pretty interested. I don't think they would be inviting me down if they weren't interested."

Growing up in Ohio, Monheim said he has followed the Buckeyes since he started playing football and has attended numerous games in the past. But, this visit will be his first as a college football prospect.

Despite that strong interest in Ohio State, Monheim said he'd still consider any school that extends a scholarship offer.

"I've grown up a Buckeye fan and have been to numerous games, but that doesn't take away any interest to any other school looking at me at all," he said.

Monheim knows of Ohio State's success developing NFL-caliber linebackers.

"It impresses me a lot," he said. "Each year they are producing linebacker after linebacker. That's my position and people can't help it but to notice the linebackers there."

People already have noticed Monheim.

He was recently named an Ohio first team all-state linebacker in Division IV after racking up 190 tackles with 36 tackles for loss, three sacks and two interceptions in leading Orrville to a 7-3 regular season record. Orrville went on to advance to the Division IV state semifinals.

"I really feel we proved a lot of people wrong," Monheim said of Orrville's run to the final four. "People expected us to go 5-5 and do bad since we lost 20 some seniors last year. It hurt to lose, but going that far any outcome was extremely successful."

Monheim said Orrville's defense sets him up to find the ball carrier.

"The defensive line is schemed for us linebackers to make plays and I do that and run to the ball every play," he said. "I feel I read very and I play sideline to sideline and then I deliver a hit."

During the off-season, Monheim normally swims the sprint races at Orrville, but this year he's going to take a season off to concentrate on adding size and strength to his frame.

"I normally swim, I'm a sprinter and have placed in the top 8 both my freshman and sophomore years in the 50 freestyle, but I chose not to swim this year so that I hopefully can put on more weight," he said. "Swimming makes me lose weight and my lifting schedule would be messed up."

Monheim credits his swimming background for developing his work habits.

"I mean it definitely helped me become the hard worker I am because swimming is no joke," he said. "I don't believe it could have done anything with agility and football skill but the cardio is great and it's working every muscle."

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