No. 36 on the 2022 FCS Jersey Countdown is in honor of Western Illinois defensive lineman Hunter Mason.
Mason was coming off of a standout junior season with the Leathernecks in 2021. Mason’s family, friends, teammates, and community received jolting news this spring when a large mass was discovered on his frontal lobe, requiring emergency brain surgery. Mason was battling Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. On June 1, Mason’s family announced the heartbreaking news that Hunter passed away at his home in Nevada, Missouri.
Born Oct. 19, 1999, Mason was a standout athlete and a 4.0 GPA student at Nevada High School. In his three years at WIU, Mason graduated as an Honors Scholar with High Academic Distinction, Summa Cum Laude, with an undergraduate degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration. He was pursuing a Master’s degree in Sport Management during the 2021-22 academic year.
He was a three-time MVFC Academic Honor Roll selection, a two-time MVFC All-Academic Honorable Mention, and a two-time MVFC Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence award winner.
On the field, Mason was coming off his best year heading into his senior season. Last fall, Mason was named an All-MVFC Honorable Mention after recording 34 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and three quarterback hurries.
“The loss of Hunter is tragic and heartbreaking,” WIU Football Strength and Conditioning Coach Jon Minnis said in June. “For those who were fortunate enough to know Hunter, he was an incredible young man with an infectiously positive personality. We are extremely proud of Hunter and devastated by his passing.”
Rest in peace, Hunter.