With playing career at an end, former USC Gamecock and Chapin Eagle returns to his high school nest

CHAPIN, SC (WIS) - A familiar face returns to the Eagles' nest.

Mason Zandi once starred on the gridiron at Chapin High, but now he serves as an assistant football coach with the program.

"Huge thing to come back to my hometown," Zandi said.

Zandi loves being back on the field at Cecil Woolbright Stadium to coach the next generation of Eagles players.

"I realized my playing days are over and I had a lot of knowledge to give," Zandi added.

Zandi was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Los Angeles Chargers after not being selected in the 2017 NFL Draft but was waived just 17 days after he was signed.

The Eagles' leading man, however, is thrilled to have Zandi in the fold.

"Mason's done a heck of a job," Chapin head football coach Justin Gentry said. "We started him off with the freshman offensive lineman. He's teaching a lot of fundamentals. He's doing an exemplary job for our guys. He's still learning what we do and how we do it. Things have changed since he played for us."

Zandi spent two seasons as one of Gentry's players. The Irmo native uses that experience to help the current Eagles understand the values of the program.

"He taught us a bunch of things when we were younger, and when I was coming through the program about being your brother's keeper," Zandi said. "I did a lot of things here. Now, it's my turn to help [them] get to where I was if that's where [they] want to be."

Zandi went from Chapin's football field to playing under the bright lights at Williams-Brice Stadium. He spent five seasons at USC, from 2012-2016, where he mostly played on the offensive line.

"Garnet and Black is in my blood," Zandi said. "But these are where my roots are."

And Zandi could not be happier to back where it all began at Chapin High School. He looks forward to future Friday nights with the team this fall.

"I'm a little more nervous," Zandi said about shifting his role from a player to a coach. "It's a whole different mentality. I'm excited. I love it."

Zandi's ultimate goal is to coach at the college level, but for now, he embraces this opportunity to teach kids life lessons both on and off the field this season.

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