He may be listed just as a redshirt on the roster but there is nothing young or inexperienced about the way Lindenwood University’s Mason Bendigo is playing this fall as quarterback for the Lions.
After just four weeks, the redshirt freshman, who starred at Eureka High School in 2013, is now the leader of the Lions’ offense after going 2-2 in his first four starts.
“When it comes to his charisma and his confidence, Mason is second to none,” Lindenwood coach Patrick Ross said. “We had Jesse Scroggins here the first couple of weeks, one of the highest rated quarterbacks in the country, playing in front of him and Mason was never intimidated by him… it was a tough decision for us to play Jesse over Mason, but he’s a competitor, he’s got a lot of moxie and what you really want from someone at the quarterback position.”
Bendigo, an athletic 6-foot-6 230-pound playmaker, was pressed into service on Oct. 3 against Emporia State (Kansas).
“Jesse was unable to play due to a broken hand and had some other complications that caused him not to be eligible,” Bendigo said. “So my name got called and I definitely was ready. So a sad situation for Jess; I love him, but I’m glad I’m back on the field. We had competed hard in the fall and to just be able to come after him and get into the season really helped me.”
Bendigo threw for 224 yards and a touchdown in the Lions Oct. 3 loss to Emporia State. Despite the loss, Ross and his staff quickly saw the Lions, had a playmaker behind center that could keep the team’s offense moving consistently and able to score points.
“That was his first game as a starter and he did not know until the Friday before he was going to be the starter,” Ross said.
Being able to throw the ball to virtually all spots on the field and make plays on the run are intangibles that help Bendigo make the Lindenwood offense versatile and potent.
“I know the offense has rallied around him because he throws a very catchable ball, and that’s good for our wide receivers and their productivity has increased since Mason took over at quarterback,” Ross said.
Bendigo’s first three starts were a mixed bag as the Lions fell to Emporia State 20-13 on Oct. 3 and lost 69-0 to Division II power Northwest Missouri on Oct. 10. The following week, back home at Hunter Stadium, Bendigo and the Lions found some magic as he led Lindenwood to a 28-10 victory over Nebraska-Kearney.
Bendigo threw for 335 yards, three touchdowns and had just one interception in that game; then he followed up with a three-touchdown performance in the Lions’ 34-30 win at Missouri Southern. In that contest, Bendigo led the Lions to the game-winning touchdown with just over four minutes left to play.
For Bendigo, the transition from backup to starter has not been without its challenges, but thanks to film study and the support of teammates such as junior star wide receiver Tre’ Roby, he said it’s been a relatively smooth process.
“It’s been a learning process and I hope to continue to settle in with the receivers and the o-line with protections and all that,” Bendigo said. “Coming from a program like Eureka was a dream come true. They instilled a lot into me about how to win and be a team player and that’s what we want to do at Lindenwood. Bring back a winning tradition.”