- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
For the last several years, three-star tackle Mason Darrow (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) has watched fellow Barrington offensive linemen commit and sign with FBS programs.
He could do the same. He has offers from Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Ohio, Western Michigan and Wyoming. Colgate and Holy Cross have offered, too.
Darrow is not worried about playing college football at its highest level, though. He is looking to get an education first. That is why the Ivy League school Penn, which does not offer athletic scholarships, is at the top of his list.
“I’m definitely looking first and foremost at academics,” Darrow said. “They’re my front-runner, and that’s an academic decision.”
Although Darrow has not been told he has a definite position on Penn's football team, he feels an offer could be close. He feels the same about Harvard, as well as Princeton, where his brother is a senior on the basketball team.
Darrow visited all three Ivy League programs, and the Penn coaches stood out to him the most. Penn coach Al Bagnoli is in his 21st year as coach and entered the season second in Ivy League history in win percentage.
“It’s a great tradition and good school and I really like the coaching staff. I’m also pretty interested in Harvard and Princeton, but I’ve had more of a chance to get to know the coaching staff at Penn,” he said.
There is not much coaching turnover at Penn, and Darrow likes offensive line coach Jon McLaughlin, comparing him to his high school position coach.
Darrow said he is not interested in playing in the MAC unless Miami (Ohio) extends an offer.
“It’s pretty close to home and as far as the MAC it’s at the top academically,” he said. “That’d be something I wouldn’t have to pay [and] something I’d take a look at.”
Boston College and Vanderbilt are also interested in Darrow, who visited both places and “loved it.”
This summer, Darrow broke the fifth metatarsal on his left foot for a second time while at a Boston College camp and missed the first five games of the season. He has played in the last two, so he has yet to make a highlight tape. He will send full-game film to colleges soon, however.
Depending on which schools offer based on his senior tape, he could look at his FBS options.
“After the season I’ll probably visit those [Ivy League] places again,” Darrow said, “and hash the rest of it out depending on who else comes to the picture.”
542dTom Luginbill and Craig Haubert