One of the NFL’s legendary tough guy stories involves Los Angeles Rams’ Jack Youngblood’s Super Bowl. Although the Rams lost to the Pittsburg Steelers in Super Bowl XVI, one of the things that have been remembered – and will be remembered – is the fact that future Hall of Fame linebacker Youngblood played the game with a broken leg. If you tell that story to Edgerton’s Mason Gilbertson and he might say – cleaned up because he is, of course, a minor – hold my pop.
“I broke my leg about halfway through the second game of the season,” Gilbertson said. “I only missed one game. I broke my fibula completely in half about three inches below my knee cap. I bought a knee pad, and before every game, I would tape it on to give it some cushion. I found out at the five-week mark that it was broken. I thought I was dealing with something with a muscle. I didn’t know I was dealing with a broken leg. Before that, I went into chiropractors and finally went into a doctor. They took an x-ray, but they took the x-ray too low on my leg and didn’t see the break. I went two more weeks, and I couldn’t take the pain anymore and went into another doctor. They took another x-ray and found it was broke, but they said at this point if I had gone this far, I could keep playing.”
Before his injury, Gilbertson played both ways.
“Most of the year, I played tight end and defensive end. When my leg was giving me too much pain, my coach pulled me out on offense. So, when my leg was giving me problems, I was always playing defense, but I was a part-time offensive player.”
In addition to reduced playing time, the coaches tried to rest Gilbertson during specific parts of practice.
“I practiced, but I did not do conditioning. I only did drills and that stuff. During games, I guess I just had adrenaline pumping through me and didn’t feel it. I just put it to the side.”
As a team – the Dutchmen had an up and down 4-5 season.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” Gilbertson admitted. “We only had one senior this year. We had a lot of our juniors step up. I was pretty impressed with our season.”
“We were not a pretty team,” Gilbertson continued. “We liked to run it down your throat and play physical football. I think we only threw the ball ten times last year. I think the strength of our defense was the defensive line. I think we were able to pound people at the line of scrimmage.”
The 6’6″ 255-pound junior was used in specific situations on offense.
“Whenever we needed someone to pull or really needed the yards, I would go in. That is what I am best at on offense – pulling,” Gilbertson said. “On defense, I was usually the strong-side defensive end. My strong suit was taking my gap and just going through and going hard.”
After the football season, Gilbertson – who enjoys to walleye fishing and hunting deer and pheasant – took time to heal.
“I sat out the first half of the basketball season,” Gilbertson said. “I have healed completely. The doctors said I am one hundred percent.”
During the second half of the basketball season, Gilbertson was one of the team’s go-to players.
“I was mainly down low. I was the biggest guy on the court. I was a rebounder and defender, but I could score too. I ended up four points behind our top scorer after playing only half the season.”
Back on the football field, Gilbertson is focused on improving a skill that basketball helped him improve.
“I need to work on my footwork to get faster off the ball.”
Getting in good workouts have become harder for athletes this spring.
“I am running a lot,” Gilbertson told northstarfootballnews.com. “I can bench and squat. I do a lot of lunges. I usually start with weights in the morning. In the middle of the day, I will go for a run and then do weights again at the end of the day.”
Gilbertson had to be his own start-up company to get college attention.
“All the recruiting notice I have gotten has been because of my film and reaching out to coaches on my own. I have reached out to all the local colleges.”
So far, his efforts have paid off.
“University of Sioux Falls is in contact with me almost every day. Before the quarantine, I was talking to Iowa State a lot. USF and South Dakota State are the schools most interested right now.”
Northern State, Southwest Minnesota State, and Concordia-St. Paul have offered the Dutchman big man. Most of the programs are non-committal on what side of the ball Gilbertson will be playing.
“The University of Minnesota was looking at me on offense, but they were the only one that has picked a side of the ball. Schools like my size, and they like that I am the type of kid who wants to go head to head with someone. I don’t back down from anybody.”
In many ways, Gilbertson’s injury helped his recruiting.
“A lot of schools seem to love that I came back from an injury. They see that I love the game and will play through anything.”
They saw him play through even more than an NFL Hall of Famer.