December 14, 2013

Tre Mason: From Unknown to Heisman Hopeful

By - Keith Smith

A month ago, Auburn running back Tre Mason was on no one's Heisman ballot. No one's. But depending on whose mock ballot you look at, he is poised to finish as high as second or third when voting totals are revealed Saturday night in New York City.

Photo by: Daniel Shirey
That's not to say he shouldn't have been considered earlier. Anyone who has ever seen Mason knows that he is, pound-for-pound, one of the strongest running backs in the country. He often carries 300-pound linemen (and sometimes more than one) on his back for extra yards. In his three years on the Plains, he has averaged 5.8, 5.9 and 5.7 yards per carry, respectively. But by the end of October, he was only sitting on 753 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns, so he wasn't a blip on the Heisman radar.

Those were solid numbers for sure, but nothing to set the world on fire. Still, with five games left, he was sure to get 1,000-plus yards and 12 to 15 TDs and have a real nice season, right?

Then again, Mason and his Tiger teammates were hitting the most difficult patch of their schedule, with games at Arkansas, at Tennessee, and at home versus their two biggest rivals, Georgia and Alabama, the best rushing defense in the Southeastern Conference, so who knew? And certainly no one outside of Auburn and their fans believed they would end up playing in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game against the second-best rushing defense in the conference at the time.

Over his final five games, though, Mason proceeded to rush for 868 yards and 13 scores. That's not a misprint; 13 TDs over his last five games.

To put that in perspective, that is more rushing yards for one running back than three FBS teams (Southern Miss, Purdue and Washington State) had all season, and more rushing touchdowns than twenty FBS squads had for the year.

He finished the season (excluding the BCS National Championship Game) with eight 100-plus yard games, and easily could have had eleven (finishing just a yard short vs. Arkansas State and leaving games against Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic early once the Tigers built big leads).

Mason set school records this season for all-purpose yards with 2,137 (eclipsing Bo Jackson's 1,859), rushing touchdowns with 22 (surpassing Cam Newton's 20), and fell just shy of Jackson's record of 1,786 rushing yards with his 1,621. And in the four games he played against Top 10 teams this year, Mason rushed for 132 yards vs. LSU, 178 vs. Texas A&M, 164 vs. Alabama, and 304 vs. Missouri, totaling 778 yards and 8 TDs.

Meaning, he was truly at his best against the best competition.

In case you forgot, Auburn has long been known as a running back factory, producing the likes of Jackson, Ben Tate, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, Ronnie Brown, William Andrews, Tucker Frederickson, Joe Cribbs, Stephen Davis, Rudi Johnson, Brandon Jacobs, James Brooks, James Bostic, Lionel James, and Brent Fullwood, just to name a few.

And Mason has bested all of them, at least at the collegiate level.

He won't win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday. However, if he decides to stick around for his senior season, he will definitely be in the conversation long before November next year.

1 comment:

  1. Would love to see him win it, even though I know he's not going to. Been the best player in college football over the last month or so. Hopefully he comes back next season.