On January 6, 2014, Tre Mason capped off one of the more amazing seasons in recent college football history.
It was on that date that Mason ran for 195 yards on 34 carries in the last BCS National Championship as his Auburn Tigers lost to the Florida State Seminoles, 31-34. It was an incredibly entertaining game at the tail of an incredibly entertaining season. Unbelievably entertaining, really.Auburn won half of its 12 games that season by 8 points or less.
On November 16 in a Auburn-Georgia matchup that featured star running backs in Mason and Todd Gurley, Auburn won on a miracle deflected 75-TD reception by Ricardo Louis with less than 30 seconds remaining. Mason ran for 115 yards on 27 carries. The game would be known as the Prayer at Jordan-Hare.
The following game provided perhaps the greatest college football game of all time in the 2013 Iron Bowl which ended in Chris Davis' 109-yard return of a missed field goal as time expired giving Auburn a 34-28 win over rival (understatement) Alabama. Mason ran for 164 yards on 29 carries. The game would be known as Kick Six.
A week later in the SEC Championship, Mason would spearhead Auburn's offensive explosion in a shootout winning 59-42 over Missouri. Mason ran for 304 yards on 46 carries. After the previous two Auburn games, this one didn't need a name.
Despite his college production resume, Mason lulled through the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft before the Rams selected him with the 75th overall pick. Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher's aversion to rookies was on full display in 2014, pausing on the #2 overall pick of that year's draft, Greg Robinson, and Aaron Donald, #13 pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, until week 6 to give them their first starts. Mason wouldn't get his first start until week 9.
Mason finished his rookie year with more than 750 yards on less than 200 carries, a very solid effort despite the truncated playing time.
Nevertheless, the Rams spent the #10 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on his opponent's running back from the aforementioned Auburn-Georgia game: Todd Gurley. Mason's role, never established in early 2014 and likely unsettled going into 2014 with Gurley an unknown commodity until he gets significant regular season playing time, is still a huge question mark.
This one's kind of hard with Gurley in the on-deck circle. Without a chance to work on the rotation for their running back by committee approach in the preseason, we don't really know what's in store for the ground game once Gurley gets back. It does, then, make it a "show as you go" situation for Mason and really for the whole unit.
Chances of Making Final Roster (10/10)
He'll be there, but I just don't know how this is going to work between Mason, Gurley and Benny Cunningham hanging around. I don't really see any regular season contributions from Trey Watts as a running back, but who know; long odds are still odds.
The bigger issue is how the Rams have managed themselves into this glut. They delayed playing Zac Stacy in favor of starting Daryl Richardson in 2013. Once Stacy proved to be the better back (which he was the entire time), Richardson was cast off.
The Rams then drafted Mason, a move I was critical of at the time with Stacy having resolved the major RB issue and outstanding issues elsewhere on the roster (hello, offensive line). Nonetheless, Mason had a very fine rookie season statistically.
Now, the Rams have drafted Gurley, a move I was critical of the time with Mason and Stacy having resolved the major RB issue and outstanding issues elsewhere on the roster (hello, offensive line). So who knows. Maybe the Rams have finally gotten to a place of elite talent combined at the position and will stop drafting running backs in the first two days of NFL Drafts.
Then again, the Rams do have many more Tre Masons at their disposal if necessary...