CLEMSON — Andrew Maas is not only a mechanical engineering major at Clemson University, but also plays football for a program that entered the season ranked No. 8 in the country.
Balancing mechanical engineering and athletics would be a tall task for any student-athlete, but not for Maas. He has flourished athletically and academically.
Last season, Maas made the all-academic team and owned the team’s highest grade point average. Although admittedly it was a difficult transition at first, now he says it is all about managing his time and energy.
“Juggling school and football can be tough,” Andrew noted. “But it isn’t as difficult as it used to be. It all comes down to planning ahead and taking advantage of the down time that I do have. I like having a full schedule because I always have something to do. It keeps me motivated and focused on the task. I just finish one thing and then tackle the next.”
After graduating from Richard Winn Academy in 2010, Maas enrolled at Clemson, but did not play football his freshman year so he could become accustomed to the rigors of university academics.
“I believe that year off gave me the opportunity to become acclimated with higher education,” Maas said. “Once I settled in, I began to try my hand at other activities like football.”
He decided to walk on to the football team during his sophomore year, after watching his friend try out as a kicker the previous year. Maas spent the summer working on his conditioning and preparing.
He expected to try out for wide receiver, but Clemson was not holding try-outs for quarterbacks, kickers or wide receivers.
Maas did not let that deter him. He tried out as a defensive back instead. Although he was not sure if he had performed well enough to earn a spot on the team, he enjoyed the process and just the chance at an opportunity.
“Try-outs were super exciting and being on the field with those coaches was especially surreal,” Maas noted.
Later that night, Maas received a call from one of the recruiting coaches. He had shown the Tiger coaches enough because they wanted him to attend spring practice as a wide receiver. Maas said the coaches liked his effort, approach and the way he attacked the football.
Making the journey from a small private school to a major university has been humbling for Maas and he believes Richard Winn played an integral part in preparing him for life outside of Fairfield County.
The entire process has been surreal: being a D-I athlete, walking on to the team and being around NFL caliber talent. At first, Maas said he was nervous at meetings and being around people he had only seen on television, heard on the radio or read about.
But now he shares a bond and camaraderie with them that few know about.
“It has been a gradual process to settle in and get used to being around so much talent,” Maas said. “But once you get to know them as individuals you realize they are normal people with an extraordinary talent.”
Looking back, Maas does not know what the coaches saw in him, because, in his owns words, he was “scrawny and uncoordinated.” However, he says his confidence has grown as he has become stronger and more comfortable with knowing his assignments.
Maas’s role for Clemson football is on the scout team. He helps prepare the Clemson defense by running the opposing offense for the upcoming week. Maas said Head Coach Dabo Swinney reminds scout players every day that they have a hard job but they have to perform their best to prepare Clemson for its next opponent.
Last year, Maas played eight snaps in two games. His first career game came Sept. 8, 2012, against Ball State. During a recent spring game, he caught three passes for 39 yards.
Every week, Maas said he does his best to prepare his team for their next opponent and his own individual goal is to play in the game. Assistant/wide receivers coach Jeff Scott believes Maas is one of the hardest working players on the team and has the respect of his teammates.
“He (Andrew) gives great effort on the practice field and in the classroom,” Scott noted. “Andrew has improved his skills as a receiver since joining the team all while having one of the highest GPAs on the team.”
Although he wishes he had more time to visit his family in Ridgeway, he knows they are always available to give a helping hand.
“I truly have an unbelievable family,” he said. “I can give them a call at anytime of the day and they are always willing to give a word of advice.”
His father, Jim Maas, was a walk-on pole vaulter at Western Michigan. Growing up, the younger Maas said he always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and play D-I athletics.
Andrew Maas said his family always pushed him to give his best effort.
“Nothing that I’ve accomplished would have been possible without my family,” he noted. “In the world we live in, we can’t succeed by ourselves. We need other people’s support and it was by learning that that I was able to move ahead in life.”
Contact Lucas Vance at 635-4016 ext.15 or email him at lvance@civitasmedia.