I have to come clean: In 33 years of broadcasting, I have never seen a college football season quite like the season that has unfolded at Auburn University. Oh, I expected the Crimson Tide team to be strong, which the team is, but the Tigers? The Prayer At Jordan-Hare? The Iron Bowl Return To Glory? An SEC Championship? A shot at FSU in the BCS Championship game? I along with millions of others didn't see this coming (and if you are ardent Auburn fan, don't tell me you did). As we head west in a few weeks to see if another team from our great state can win it all (5 straight, ya kidding me?), allow me to give some props to a young man who today appeared on my final Heisman ballot.
While under Heisman Trust rules I cannot reveal my top three picks, I can tell you that Auburn junior tailback Tre Mason deserves a trip to the Heisman ceremony in New York City (maybe he can have dinner with Bama's AJ McCarron, another deserving finalist). On Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, the son of former De La Soul member Vincent Mason was music to the ears of Auburn fans, running for 195 yards... in the first half!
Just think of what Mason did in the SEC Championship game against a Missouri defense ranked #2 in the SEC: 46 carries, 304 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns, nearly single-handidly sending the Mizzou defenders to their knees. Mason, in fact ended up rushing for over 21 percent of the total yards allowed all season by he Mizzou defense). With the great Bo Jackson watching (Bo later called Mason "A bad, bad man"), the Palm Beach, Fla native scored his 22nd touchdown of the season, breaking the single-season TD mark set by another pretty good player, Cam Newton. Mason also broke Bo's single-season all-purpose yardage mark. Want more? On Saturday, Tre Mason became only the 5th running back in SEC history to run for over 300 yards in a game, the first since Darren McFadden ran for 321 yards back in 2007.
Maybe media dweebs like myself have been asleep, but Saturday, Tre Mason, with his superb effort, reminded us all just how strong he has been against the strongest teams in the nation. In three tough SEC games in 2013, all against ranked teams, Mason went for the following:
132 yards vs LSU
178 yards vs Texas A&M
164 yards vs Alabama
304 yards vs Missouri
And there's more: In only four games this season, Mason failed to rush for less than 99 yards. In five SEC road games this season, Mason averaged 180 rushing yards. And the thing about it is, his polite, worry-free disposition is a pleasure to watch. I was the first to reach Mason Saturday as the clock wound down in Atlanta. After hugging a few Missouri Tigers he turned to me as I asked him, "Aren't you tired?" He smiled at me through his face mask and said, "I could go another full game". Ya know something? I believed him.
If you root for the Auburn Tigers, the word "destiny" has certainly floated around your house- and I bring you one more eerie Tre Mason statistic that may once again remind you that this season has been something special for the Auburn nation. Look at something I noticed when doing my homework on this kid:
Junior year at Auburn: 1621 rushing yards, 22 TD's, 304 yards vs Mizzou.
Senior year in high school: 1643 rushing yards, 24 TD's, 312 yards vs Seminole Ridge
When the going gets tough, Tre Mason gets going- and like his Auburn team, he finishes strong. Will Mason turn pro and bypass his senior season at AU? Tiger fans can worry about that after the BCS Championship Game, for there is work to do. And while I can't divulge my Heisman ballot, I can tell you that the state of Alabama should be well represented at the Heisman dinner next weekend. Jameis Winston, AJ McCarron and Tre Mason may just find themselves sitting next to one another on the front row. While the kid from Hueytown (our "Sideline 5A Player Of The Year 2 years ago- how time flies), the young men from Mobile and Palm Beach respectively are well-deserving of a trip north (see previous posts on McCarron) and lots of love from the Heisman brass.