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Auburn's Tre Mason to skip senior season, enter NFL Draft

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File Photo: Tre Mason and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn hug after winning the SEC Championship game. File Photo: Tre Mason and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn hug after winning the SEC Championship game.
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AUBURN, AL (WSFA) -

Star Auburn running back Tre Mason announced Thursday that he will forgo his senior season on the Plains and enter the NFL Draft.

Mason made the announcement that he'll turn pro at a meeting with reporters at 1 p.m. today.

"We had the best year. I had a great time, and I love Coach Malzahn," Mason said. The decision came after consulting with his family.

Mason had a break-out year with the Tigers breaking the Auburn single-season record with more than 1,800 yards rushing.

TRE MASON COLLEGE HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Currently fourth on Auburn's career chart with 32 rushing touchdowns, trailing Joe Cribbs with 34 for third.

  2. Finished the season with the Auburn single-season record for All-Purpose Yards (2374).

  3. With 195 yards in the BCS National Championship Game, Mason broke Bo Jackson's Auburn single-season rushing yards record of 1,786 yards, finishing the season with 1,816 yards.

  4. Extended his individual Auburn single-season rushing touchdown record with 23 on the season.

  5. Finished the season with the Auburn single-season scoring record of 144 points.

ANNOUNCEMENT TRANSCRIPT

Comments from Tre Mason: First off, I want to tell the Auburn Family that I appreciate them and I love them. We had a blessed year and I had a great time. I love playing for Coach Malzahn. He recruited me out of high school and this was a dream come true by just coming to Auburn. After all that thought and talking with my mom and dad over and over again, I just wanted to say that I am going to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft.

About the conversation with his parents: My dad played a big role in this decision. My mom and dad both told me that the life span for a running back in the NFL is very short. I had a great year this year and Coach Malzahn helped me with this decision. He said that I had a very good year this year and that he was expecting this. It was a dream since I was young and I'm a dream chaser. I'm just trying to turn a dream into reality.

How has he has improved during his career at Auburn: You know I came in small, frail. I was recruited as a speed guy and I always had people tell me I was too small to be a running back. I had coaches like Coach Russell and Coach Yox to help me get bigger, faster and stronger. Coaches like Coach Lashlee and Coach Horton helped with some things I needed to work on like ball security and just becoming a better running back and also a better man. The coaching staff I've had has helped me to be the man I am today.

The feedback from his NFL evaluation: I believe it was a 3rd-round grading, but I'm not 100 percent sure.

Did that grade make a difference in your decision? At that time, I wasn't worried about it. I was just going to let my game speak.

Where will he train? I'm not 100 percent sure. That's still a process and I'm talking with my family.

Will he attend Pro Day at Auburn? Yea.

How his work load got bigger throughout the year: There's no telling our game plan. Once one thing happens, Coach Malzahn will keep running that play until you can find a way to stop it. That wasn't the game plan to give me the ball 40 times in the SEC championship game, but at that time it was unstoppable. I embraced that role and I was happy to embrace that role. When the ball's in my hand I'm going to find a way to win the game.

About fulfilling his dream to be a premier running back: It was a big dream of mine. I wanted the ball bad and I felt like I could do something when I had the ball in my hand. God blessed me with the coaches I've had to put the ball in my hands. God's also blessed me with the ability to do what I can do with the ball.

Will he finish his degree? Of course. I'm pretty close to finishing my degree and I'm definitely going to come back to school. I wasn't going to take all these classes for three years and not finish. I'm definitely going to finish my degree.

What future he sees for the Auburn program: I can see them being national champs. That's not going to change. My declaring for the draft is not going to keep me away from my teammates. These are still my teammates and my brothers. I'm going to try to make it seem like I never left -- stay in touch with these guys and make sure their mind is right and keep grinding to get back to the top.

His lasting memories of Auburn: The coaches that were put in front of me that changed my life and my attitude. Without them, I wouldn't be the man I am today. I'm a more respectful and humble person and remain hungry. I've realized the blessings that I have been presented and you've got to count your blessings.

Did his heavy workload influence his decision? Somewhat. It does take some wear and tear on your body, but I embraced that. Getting the ball in your hands and having a coaching staff that has faith in you having the ball is a good feeling

What kind of tailback is the NFL getting? They'll get somebody that's a hard worker, willing to do whatever it takes to win. My mind's not just set on money; it's set on championships. I have yet to win a championship and my mindset is not going to change. God willing I will win a championship at the next level.

What will he tell scouts who are skeptical about his size? I guess they are just going to have to watch tape. I'm not afraid to put my nose in there and get dirty. I feel like I can run between the tackles and outside the tackles. I try to be very dynamic and run the ball in different ways.

The legacy he's leaving at Auburn: I came in and wanted to be the best. Breaking Bo Jackson's record was a goal of mine at the beginning of the season, and I believed and God blessed me with the opportunity to do that.

When did everything start to click? We were still trying to find our identity at the beginning of the season, whether we were going to pass a lot or run a lot. I guess around the fourth game of the season we figured out we are going to run the ball and it's going to be hard to stop.

About the remaining Auburn running backs: Those guys are ready. They were ready this year. I see a lot of talent in those guys and they're very hard workers. Starting from Peyton Barber to Cameron Artis-Payne, those guys are hard workers and I know they'll continue to do that.

Comments from Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn: First of all, I would like to congratulate Tre. Our staff is extremely proud of him. I recruited Tre and going to the NFL was a goal of his. I'm very proud of him reaching his goal. He did a wonderful job for us, not only this year, but his whole career -- not just the way he played football, but the way he represented Auburn. I'm very proud of him. It's a big day for him and his family and it's a big day for Auburn. So I'm very proud of him.

What kind of running back Mason is: They're getting one of the tougher individuals in all of college football. He can run between the tackles, he's got great courage and he plays his best games in the biggest games. He's a good receiver out of the backfield as well.

When he knew Mason was the starter: The fact I recruited him and knew a lot about him. I coached him as a freshman and he was more of a speed sweep guy at the time. Of course, last year he had a 1,000-yard year. Going into this year we opened up everything, every position. Like Tre was saying we have some really talented running backs. We started identifying where we were right before the Ole Miss game and he took it from there. He started playing his best football, improved each week and helped us get to the national championship game.

Designating Mason as the every-down back: It just kind of happens and you go with whoever's hot. He wanted the football and we kept giving it to him and he did positive things with it. People knew we were running and they knew he was getting it and he was able to get positive yards and make some very, very hard yards. We played some very good defenses especially late in the season and that was when he was at his best.

Mason making hard runs late in the game: Special backs have that ability. When the moment's the biggest, that's when they make a play and he did that the other night.

Did the heavy load of carries wear Mason down: No, I don't think so. He was still wanting the ball. He's a great competitor and he wants to win. That's the thing about Tre Mason; he wants to win and he doesn't get distracted by all the other stuff. His goal is to play in the NFL so it didn't surprise me. He told me that when I was recruiting him. He's coming out either the best running back or one of the best running backs -- of course in my opinion, he is the best running back in college football right now.

On Mason's work ethic: There's no doubt. He understands that you've got to work hard to get where you need to be.

How that influences other players: As a coach, you're always looking for leaders, and guys will look up to those leaders. Tre was one of our leaders and he led by example. He helped us get to the national championship and 13 seconds away from winning it.

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