Kelsee Brady, Campus Carrier managing editor
On Friday Aug. 13, Mason Kinsey played in his first NFL game with the Tennessee Titans. Playing against the Atlanta Falcons, the Tennessee Titans traveled to Atlanta and played at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in a preseason game, which is intended to provide rookies and returning NFL players an opportunity to showcase their talent and skills to fight for a final spot on the NFL teams rosters.
The first Berry Viking to be drafted into the NFL, Mason Kinsey is one of these rookies fighting for a spot as a wide receiver on the final roster. Initially, the NFL fills a preseason roster with more players on it than necessary. The purpose of preseason games is to allow coaches to pick and choose the players that they want to be part of their final roster, which consists of 53 spots.
During the game, Mason stood out as he had the most receptions on both sides of the game. He finished with four receptions which is more than any other receiver on his team or the Falcons, according to Google statistics.
Mason’s first reception in the game happened to take place almost directly in front of where his family and friends were seated. According to Garrett, the family was seated in the right corner of the end zone, and Mason successfully completed a play that ended in front of Garrett and the rest of their family.
“I knew that I’d been working, basically, my entire life for this, for me to finally step onto an NFL field,” Mason said. “My dad called me and asked if I was nervous and I was like ‘there’s no reason for me to be nervous if I know that I’m prepared’.”
At the end of the game, Mason went over to his family to join them in their celebration of his win. During this, Mason jumped up to hug his dad, Shane, in the stands, which is displayed on the front page of this issue. In the photo, Mason’s dad is shown wearing a Tennessee Titans firefighter helmet that has Mason’s jersey number, 12, on the front.
The jersey number 12, according to Mason, originated from former University of Georgia (UGA) wide receiver, Tavarres King. Mason and Garrett grew up in the same hometown of Mount Airy, Ga. as King, and all three attended the same high school, Habersham Central. During his time at UGA, King wore the jersey number of 12, and as a child, when Mason’s dad asked him what number he wanted to wear on his jersey, Mason decided to follow in the footsteps of King.
Mason mentioned that he has worn the same jersey number for his entire career, except for the few months that he was on the New England Patriots Practice squad in 2020.
For Mason, having the opportunity to play in preseason games this year is instrumental in his potential to make it onto the team.
“Last year with COVID, we didn’t have preseason games so it’s kind of hard for rookies to go out and show anything outside of practice,” Mason said. “I got to [play] in Atlanta, not far from my hometown in front of my friends and family.”
Mason’s younger brother, Garrett Kinsey, is a senior at Berry and plays as a full-back and tight end on the football team.
For the Kinseys, seeing Mason play against the Atlanta Falcons in a preseason game was a huge milestone. According to Garrett, the brothers used to attend at least one preseason game every year in Atlanta so seeing Mason playing in a preseason game in Atlanta was surreal to him.
“Just being in the state of Georgia, I think a lot of people are Falcons fans,” Garrett said. “We never could make it to actual season games whenever we were younger, but we always made it to a preseason. So, it was kinda nuts that we used to always go to the Falcons first preseason game, and now he’s playing in it.”
At Berry, the athletic department is excited for the opportunities that Mason continues to have.
Director of Athletics Angel Mason speaks highly of Mason and credits his accomplishments to his hard work on and off the field.
“We continue to see him work in the off-season, coming back to school this past spring,” Angel Mason said. “He’s doing the right thing. We’re proud of him.”
Angel watched the game on television and she was happy with what she saw on the field.
“I was very proud of his performance,” Angel Mason said. “Obviously, he was a very strong athlete here, but I think his mental toughness is what’s continuing to help him.”
Overall, Mason is just happy to have the support of Berry College as he continues to pursue a career in the NFL.
“I just wanted to say thank you for all the guys at Berry, and all the staff and everybody that came to the game and watched the game,” Mason said. “Thank you for all the support that they’ve given me. It’s been overwhelming. I appreciate it because they don’t have to do that. They don’t have to support me as much as they do, but to know that I have a strong support system back at Berry is awesome.”
This Saturday, Aug. 21, the Titans will be visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James stadium in Tampa, Fl. Mason will be just 20 minutes away from the stadium that he played at during the East-West Shrine Game back in Jan. 2020, which helped open the door to the NFL.