Auburn running back Tre Mason (21) dodges Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey (13) and scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter against FSU in the BCS National Championship Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif. (Julie Bennettfirstname.lastname@example.org)
-- The final carry of Tre Mason's Auburn career will also be one of his most memorable, the brilliant, powerful 37-yard run to give the Tigers the lead in the BCS National Championship.Masonwill forego his senior year and enter the NFL Draft after announcing the decision in a press conference at Auburn on Thursday, three days after rushing for 195 yards in the Tigers' loss to Florida State. Auburn running back Tre Mason discusses his decision to turn pro after breaking Bo Jackson's single-season record for rushing yards with the Tigers. (Brandon Marcelloemail@example.com)"After all the thought and talking with my family, friends. My Mom and Dad talked to me over and over again, lots of conversations with them," Mason said to open his press conference. "I'm going to declare for the 2014 draft."Mason relied on his parents -- his father is rapper DJ Maseo, one-third of the group De La Soul -- and to a lesser degree, Auburn's coaching staff, to make the decision.In weighing his options, Mason focused on the number of carries he's already put on his body, as well as the fact that his dominant season has pushed his stock incredibly high."My dad, he played a big role in this. They told me that the life span of a running back in the NFL is very short. I had a great year," Mason said.Malzahn told Mason he was expecting the decision.The NFL Draft Advisory Board graded Mason as a third-round pick. Mason, who is generously listed at 5-foot-10, doesn't have "prototypical" size for the NFL, and running backs have seen their draft slots fall in recent years as more and more teams go to a committee approach.Mason, who joins a running back class that includes Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, Boston College's Andre Williams, Baylor's Lache Seastrunk and Washington's Bishop Sankey, has established his strengths -- vision, lateral quickness, toughness and durability -- over the course of his record-breaking season."They're getting one of the tougher individuals in all of college football," Malzahn said. "He can run between the tackles, he's got great courage, he plays his best games in his biggest games, and he's a good receiver out of the backfield also."Mason's final carry broke Bo Jackson's hallowed single-season rushing mark at Auburn, lifting him to a school-record 1,816 yards, another school record with 25 total touchdowns and 23 rushing touchdowns.And he leaves after two seasons as the starter with his name all over Auburn's record books.Mason ranks sixth on Auburn's career chart with 2,979 rushing yards, seventh in carries with 516, fourth with 32 touchdowns and also holds the school's single-season record with 2,374 all-purpose yards, including 12 catches for 165 yards and averaging 26.3 yards per return."I just came in wanting to be the best," Mason said. "And I just feel like breaking Bo Jackson's record was a goal of mine since the beginning of the season and I believed and God blessed me with the opportunity to do that."Mason, who got his start as a speed sweep option and kick returner as a freshman, transformed his body from a 190-pound burner into a 205-pound bruiser, picking up tough yardage to rush for 1,002 yards in a disastrous 2012 season and then accelerating from off of everybody's radar to Heisman Trophy finalist in a brilliant finishing kick. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn reacts to junior running back Tre Mason's decision to enter the NFL Draft on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. (Brandon Marcellofirstname.lastname@example.org)Before the national title game, Mason's signature moment was his grueling 46-carry, 304-yard, four-touchdown performance against Missouri, but he also rushed for 164 yards against Alabama, 115 against Georgia, 168 yards against Arkansas, 178 against Texas A M and 132 in a loss to LSU.And Mason always played with heart, apologizing to Auburn fans after the national championship for missing out on the crystal football despite his workhorse performance.Now, Mason will take that heart and talent to the NFL."I feel like they'll get somebody that's a hard-worker, willing to do whatever it takes to win," Mason said. "My mind's not just set on money, it's set on championships." AL.com coverage | 2013 Auburn Joel A. Erickson stories, opinion, news Thank you for subscribing. You should receive your first newsletter within 24 hours. To view and subscribe to any of our other newsletters, please .
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