Tre Mason ran for just over 1,000 yards in 2012 but still came into the 2013 season as an afterthought when it came to running back draft prospects. At 5-foot-10 205-pounds, Mason doesn’t have the build to be a power back, yet he proved time and time again he can break tackles and run away from defenses as well. Monday night’s BCS National Championship game was the ultimate stage for Mason to show his stuff, and he did better than anyone anticipated when he rushed for 195 yards on 34 carries.
Mason was a workhorse for the Auburn Tigers and he did his job with a 5.7 yards per carry average and two total touchdowns — one on the ground and one through the air. Prior to bowl season there was no surefire No. 1 running back prospect, but after his incredible performance against Florida State, Mason very well could be the first back taken once the NFL Draft rolls around.
Mason featured all aspects of his game Monday night as he made quite a few impressive cuts to break tackles, broke through the defensive line on almost every carry and even ran away from the Seminoles’ secondary to score the go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute of game time remaining.
Mason also showed he has great vision as early in the game he made a jump cut to the right in order to allow a blocker to take on a Seminole defender and give him an easy six-yard trot into the end zone. Overall, Mason had one of his most impressive games of the season on the biggest stage and has set himself up to be one of the first running backs taken in the upcoming May draft.
Mason’s main competition for that top spot is Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, who totaled 152 yards and two touchdowns in his bowl game and Ka’Deem Carey, the Arizona back who ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns in his bowl game against the Boston College Eagles.
While we must still wait to hear Mason commit to entering the 2014 NFL Draft, right now he stands as one of the best all-around running backs in the game and would really benefit from leaving college a year early to pursue a career as a starting NFL running back.