Tre Mason, running back for the Auburn Tigers, was not a name that many knew at the midpoint of the 2013 season. Mason was having a good year at the time, and Auburn was on the climb, but no one was expecting Mason to do really big things.
Then, the second half of the season happened, and Mason stepped up his game. He had some huge performances against some of the best defenses in college football.
The last two games of the season moved Mason from an outstanding running back to an elite one. Mason rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ Iron Bowl win over the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, which clinched the Southeastern Conference Western Division title for Auburn.
In the SEC Championship Game, Mason had another huge game, rushing for 304 yards and four scores against the Missouri Tigers, who entered the game with one of the best rushing defenses in the country.
Now, Mason will have the opportunity to face another elite defense, when the Tigers battle the Florida State Seminoles in the BCS National Championship Game on January 6 in Pasadena.
If Mason can put up similar numbers against the Seminoles that he did against Alabama and Missouri, he could vault his way up many NFL Draft boards. And if that happens, Mason might make the choice to leave Auburn early and test the professional ranks.
However, it won’t be easy. Florida State’s defense is ranked 13th nationally, giving up just 116.5 yards per game on the ground.
But Mason, quarterback Nick Marshall and head coach Gus Malzahn always seem to find a way to put up yards and points against just about anyone. If that happens again, Mason will face a tough decision about his future.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.