Georgia Tech freshman A-back Dontae Smith was a high-school junior hoping to give his recruitment a boost. Using the resources he had available to him, he sent a Twitter direct message to a family friend asking for help. In this instance, it helped that the friend was former Georgia Tech All-American Shaquille Mason.
“And then he was like, ‘OK, I’ll tell one of the coaches about you,’” Smith said. “And he really did.”
Mason texted inside linebackers coach Andy McCollum, encouraging him to take a look at Smith. McCollum, who recruits central Tennessee, visited Smith at Spring Hill High and invited him to a camp that summer. Smith did the rest, running the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. Smith got an offer shortly after, which he quickly accepted. He arrived at Tech on Tuesday to begin his freshman year.
Looking back, Smith wasn’t sure Mason would actually follow through. Smith acknowledged that his request wasn’t exactly desperate.
“It was just something to tell him,” Smith said.
Mason is from Columbia, Tenn., about 10 miles south of Smith’s home in Spring Hill. Smith’s mother, Desire’e Salazar, knows Mason’s mother and grandmother. Smith has referred to him as a cousin, though they’re not literally related.
“You know how you know people for a long time?” Salazar asked. “Everybody kind of becomes family. That kind of thing.”
Mason finished his Tech career in 2014 and has since started 41 games at guard for the New England Patriots. His efforts on the Yellow Jackets’ behalf, however, apparently continue.
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