A Viking is headed to play at the home of the Vikings.
Lawrence University football star Tyler Mazur is playing in the All-American Bowl on Saturday at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. The All-American Bowl is an all-star game for NCAA Division III senior football players.
“I’m super-excited,” Mazur said Thursday from his hotel in Minneapolis. “It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It’s not every day or every year you get to partake in something of this caliber.”
The All-American Bowl has been played at the Metrodome, home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, every year since 1996. Mazur is the first Lawrence football player to take part in a NCAA Division III all-star game.
“I played at Camp Randall (home of Wisconsin Badgers) one time but nothing as big as this,” Mazur said.
The wide receiver from Reedsburg was chosen to play in the game after completing a stellar senior season for Lawrence. An all-Midwest Conference selection in 2011 and 2012, Mazur also earned D3football.com all-West Region honors this season as well.
Mazur caught 53 passes for 1,139 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Mazur led the Midwest Conference at 113.9 receiving yards per game. He finished sixth at 5.3 catches per contest and averaged a league-best 21.5 yards per catch. Mazur was fourth in the conference in scoring at 8.0 points per game and was the top receiver in that category.
Mazur, who had two 200-yard receiving games this season, became the first Lawrence player to post 1,000 receiving yards in a season since Appleton native Zach Michael did it back in 2003. Mazur finished his career with 2,253 receiving yards despite being a wide receiver for only two seasons.
Mazur finished his career ranked fourth in receiving yards, fifth in catches (130), fifth in touchdown catches (25), fourth in total touchdowns (37) and fifth in points (224).
“I just want to have fun. My goal right now is to just get a catch. I don’t know the level of competition that I’m going up against, but I imagine these guys are pretty good,” Mazur said. “If I get a catch, everything from there will be a nice addition.”
Scouts from NFL teams will be on hand to see if they can find a diamond in the rough from the Division III ranks. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Mazur admits he has thought about playing beyond college.
“I can’t lie that it’s popped into my thoughts a little bit,” Mazur said. “I’m not going to let that alter how I play. I’m going to have fun. I think about (playing professional football), and it’s crazy to even imagine. That’s the goal when you’re a little kid running around the backyard. To consider that you’re being watched in that regard is crazy. It’s kind of neat.”
The timing of the game also worked out perfectly in terms of Mazur’s basketball career. Mazur joined the Lawrence basketball team last season and has become a key player and three-point shooting star for the Vikings.
Mazur, who is averaging 6.7 points per game, played with the Vikings on Tuesday and Wednesday in a tournament in Wisconsin Dells, but Lawrence doesn’t play again until Jan. 9.
“The 10-day break coming up will be much needed and utilized,” Mazur said.