Colts Special Teams Coach Brian Mason: From ZCHS to NFL
This month, Zionsville Monthly is pleased to feature 2005 Zionsville Community High School graduate Brian Mason on our cover. Mason recently joined the Indianapolis Colts’ organization as its Special Teams Coordinator. Mason’s parents still reside in Zionsville, and we thought we’d take this opportunity to shine a light on this former ZCHS Eagle’s rise to the NFL.
Building a Strong Foundation at ZCHS
Mason’s journey began on the ZCHS field playing under former Eagles coach Larry McWhorter.
“Coach McWhorter is a great person and leader,” Mason said. “He led the right way, you know? He never cursed, was very discipline-oriented and led by example. I look back on it now and appreciate it even more than maybe I did in high school.”
When asked if football had always been Mason’s big dream, he replied, “Probably like a lot of kids, stereotypically, that grew up in Indiana, I loved basketball. I didn’t necessarily think football was my top sport or favorite sport but that [passion for football] had a lot to do with how successful the [ZCHS] football program was and how good of a coach McWhorter was. By my sophomore year, I had figured out that football is my favorite sport, and we had so much success, and his program was so well run; it was kind of hard not to have fun and fall in love with it.”
We asked Mason what he appreciated most about growing up in Zionsville.
“Zionsville’s great,” Mason said. “It’s a smaller suburb, but you’re close to Indianapolis. I know it’s certainly grown, but it’s certainly not the scale of Carmel and some of its other neighbors. The Main Street area is unbelievable, you know. It’s unique, and there’s a lot of great activities where people get together — especially on the 4th of July holidays, where you can have a good time. The people that I went to school with — kindergarten through senior year of high school — were the same group of friends throughout the entire time. So, it’s just kind of a unique community as far as that goes.”
A Short but Deserved Journey to the Top
Mason’s story is the classic example of a coach who worked hard, climbed the ladder and made it to the top. Though Mason shared that he did not go into coaching in 2006 with the aspiration of coaching for the NFL.
Injury issues that began at ZCHS followed him into college, and at just two years into his playing career, Mason took to the sidelines as a student coach for NCAA Division III Denison and spent his first three seasons coaching defensive line full time at Division III Bluffton. In 2012, Mason accepted a graduate assistant’s position at Kent State and continued to advance as a graduate assistant at Purdue University and later Ohio State before finding himself at the University of Cincinnati as the director of recruiting. Mason’s last collegiate college coaching position was Special Teams Coordinator for the University of Notre Dame in 2022.
Mason observed that one of the most important ingredients of success is to have the support of one’s family and peers, and throughout Mason’s professional growth, he has undoubtedly received that from his professional contacts and most certainly from his family. Mason’s wife, Rachel Stark-Mason, was working at the NCAA in downtown Indianapolis at the same time he was working in Cincinnati. The couple split the commute for two years, proving that if something’s worth it … you’ll work for it.
“When we first met, I was working at Purdue,” Mason recalled. “And then I went to Ohio State and then to Cincinnati. We lived in Oldenburg in Southeast Indiana. She commuted about an hour and 10 minutes one way, and I commuted about 45 minutes in the opposite direction.”
At this point in his career, Mason had worked with some great coaches and had coached some great players. But he had never been in the NFL … until now. And he’s ready for the challenge.
“I knew back in middle school that I wanted to work in sports,” Mason shared. “I didn’t know exactly what that meant at that time — if that meant coaching or the business [of the sport]. I knew that it did not mean playing, and I never had dreams of playing professionally. I was pretty well grounded in knowing that my athletic abilities were not that strong. I knew that I loved football and grew attached to the team aspect and really enjoyed the coaches. And once I got into college, I knew I wanted to get into coaching and pursue that more.”
When asked what qualities Mason picked up from former ZCHS Coach McWhorter, Mason thoughtfully replied, “Honesty … you have to be very straightforward and honest with the guys about where they are. That gives them a clear path about where they should go or what they should do.”
As Mason was collecting knowledge and experience at each of the universities he coached at, Mason never “dreamt” of coaching in the NFL, least of all his home state team, the Indianapolis Colts. Mason’s last collegiate coaching post was Special Teams Coordinator at the University of Notre Dame when the opportunity for him to become the Colts’ Special Teams Coordinator was presented.
“I had never dreamed of being in the NFL,” Mason said. “That wasn’t necessarily something that was an end goal or objective when I started off coaching on the small college level. I was just taking each opportunity as it came. Then the Colts approached me — the only NFL team that has ever contacted me — and I was like, ‘Wow — OK!’ And it’s been pretty surreal and very exciting. We — my family — feel blessed, and I just look forward to taking advantage of the opportunity the best that I can.”
When asked what his goals for the upcoming Colts’ season are, Mason shared, “I am looking forward to maximizing my role as Special Teams Coordinator to the best of my ability and to getting the absolute best out of our players, to play above their God-given abilities. They’ve been really successful on special teams, and I am looking to continue moving that forward.”
Brian Mason’s Rise to the NFL
- 2006–2007: Student Assistant, Denison University
- 2009–2011: Defensive Line, Bluffton University
- 2012: Graduate Assistant, Kent State
- 2013–2014: Graduate Assistant, Purdue
- 2015–2016: Graduate Assistant, Ohio State
- 2017: Director of Recruiting, University of Cincinnati
- 2018–2021: Special Teams Coordinator, University of Cincinnati
- 2022: Special Teams Coordinator, University of Notre Dame