I know what you're thinking. "Joey, you picked an offensive lineman as your Most Improved Player and now another as your MVP on offense? You do realize that there are players on offense who actually touched the ball and scored points, right?"
Trust me, I know. There are two other players I considered for this honor who do fit that criteria, and I can specifically defend why they didn't get it if you ask in the comments.
But I digress. Instead of talking about others, I want to talk about this year's offensive MVP, Shaquille "Shaq" Mason. The starting right guard earned this honor, in my book, for what he meant to the offense.
Mason started every game this season, played in most of every game with little rest, and was a major leader on and off the field. More importantly, he was Georgia Tech's go-to guy when they needed tough yards, in a way. Where normally the offense's "go-to guy" would be someone to get the ball to, Mason was instead the guy to get the ball behind. In third- and fourth-and-short situations, you could always count on Justin Thomas, Tim Byerly, Zach Laskey, or Synjyn Days to take the ball and get behind Mason -- the ever-reliable lineman who could carve out a couple of yards against any defensive front. No matter who was getting the ball, running behind Mason was as close to a guaranteed first down (or touchdown) as you'll see in college football.
Not only that, but Mason was a leader of one of the best offensive lines in college football, as well as in general as a senior in the locker room. Voted by the team as one of three permanent captains (along with Justin Thomas and Quayshawn Nealy), Mason held himself to a higher standard as the father of a newborn baby girl, and in turn helped to hold his teammates to a higher standard as well. Thanks to Mason's leadership, the team was as unified as we've seen under Coach Johnson's tenure, and played an unselfish brand of football that made the season as successful as it was.
Sometimes, a player's contributions to a team are immediately obvious, even to the untrained eye -- they throw perfectly-placed passes, make amazing catches, break tackles, and score a lot of touchdowns. Other times, those contributions are the type that won't show up on your average stat sheet, but are every bit as important as the types other difference-makers offer. That's the type Shaq Mason provided this team with. He was consistent in his reliability, a leader on the field and in the locker room, and a force to be reckoned with in the trenches. This Orange Bowl-winning season would not have been what it was without Shaq Mason's contributions to his team, and for that, he's our Offensive MVP of 2014.
Congratulations to Shaquille Mason on an outstanding senior season! We wish him good luck in his future endeavors, whether in the NFL or otherwise!