There’s no easy way to drive from Clayton, New Mexico to Western Massachusetts.
Your best bet is to go straight down Main Street and head northeast on US-56. That will take you up to Boise City, Okla. where you’ll have to watch out for the split and make sure you stay the course. From there, just follow the signs through about 300 miles of America’s heartland. That’s when you come across your first major city – Wichita, Kansas.
From Wichita, you’re about a 1,500-mile stone’s throw from your destination.
For your average road warrior, this is an impressive and tiring trip. For a 6’7, 305-pound teenager, it’s a lesson in stamina, patience and cramped discomfort.
For Cameron Mock, it’s just another step in the process.
Mock, an offensive lineman who signed with UMass last February, just made this long – and much anticipated – drive to Amherst. The whole ordeal took a little over three days, but the process of becoming a Division I football player took much longer.
You see, Clayton doesn’t produce that many high-caliber football players. The small New Mexico town is home to Clayton High School, which plays at the 2A level (the second lowest level of 11-man football in the state). It’s hard to get noticed from that small corner of the high school football universe.
“Being from a small town of less than 2,000 people in rural New Mexico, getting people to be aware of you became a very hard process – even though you are 6’7 and weigh 300 pounds,” said Dwight (“Ike”) Mock, Cameron’s father. “Never in our wildest dreams did we think that he would be going to the University of Massachusetts, which is about as far North and East as you can get from us.”
Cameron did everything he could to show up on the college football radar. He was a three-year varsity player and a captain for the Yellow Jackets. He was named First Team All-State as an offensive lineman and Second Team All-State as a defensive lineman. He went to football camps to raise his stock.
Off the field, he carried a 4.0 GPA.
Yet, at the end of the day he didn’t garner a lot of national attention. So, when UMass offered a full scholarship (prompted by Ron Hudson, UMass’ former offensive line coach who had previously held the same position at New Mexico), he jumped at the opportunity.
“We thank God for this wonderful opportunity for him at UMass, both academically and athletically,” Dwight said. “We cannot express in words the enthusiasm and desire he has shown to want to contribute to the success of UMass in all aspects.”
After signing with UMass, Cameron was mysteriously absent from the sidelines during the fall. It turns out that he sustained an undisclosed injury during the spring and was not cleared to play, according to a source close to the team. He spent the next few months rehabbing and is now ready to contribute.
“He has grown some, so be ready to look up – even more,” Dwight said.
Mock is rooming with Sam Zeff, another highly anticipated offensive lineman. Zeff graduated high school a semester early and will be working out with the team during the spring semester.
For those doing the math at home, that means there will be about 600 pounds and nearly 13 feet of offensive lineman in a UMass dorm room.
“Maybe I can save some serious money now that he is off my food bill and onto someone else’s,” Dwight said, half-jokingly.
UMass fans will catch their first glimpse of Cameron in short order, and he will be pretty hard to miss. Look out for the huge guy with a New Mexico license plate, heading down to McGuirk.
Meanwhile, back in Clayton, you can’t miss Dwight Mock’s truck. It’s the only one with a UMass sticker.