Insiders

Tre Mason Making A Name For Himself

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Going from being the man in college to just being another number on an NFL roster is a humbling experience. St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason knows the feeling.

The Rams selected Mason with the 75th overall pick in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Mason spent three years at Auburn, but he didn’t become a star until his junior season.

During his junior campaign, Mason rushed for 1,816 yards, which surpassed Bo Jackson’s all-time Auburn rushing record of 1,786 yards. Mason also broke the SEC Championship game rushing record, when he shredded Mizzou’s defense for 304 yards.

Despite all of his success at the collegiate level, the transition to the next level hasn’t been easy. In the Rams’ four preseason games, Mason only mustered 2.8 yards per carry to go along with zero touchdowns.

Mason’s lackluster performance during the preseason caused some to question if he belonged. Considering Mason only stands at 5-foot-8 and 207 pounds, he’s used to the criticism.

“If someone doubts me, that’s kind of my thing,” Mason explained. “They’ve been doing that since high school.”

Although Mason didn’t run the ball well in the preseason, the main reason it took so long for him to see the field in the regular season was due to his poor pass protection. A lot of young backs don’t come into the league as good pass blockers. It’s typically a skill that must be honed in over time.

“There’s still some things he needs to do from a protection standpoint that we’re staying on him about and I think he just needs to continue to focus on the details and the reads and things like that,” Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “But again, I think he’s just scratching the surface of what he can do, and now he needs to continue it and put back-to-back games together.”

Mason saw his first action in Week 6 against the San Francisco 49ers, where he gathered 40 yards on just five carries. Ever since then, the rookie has emerged as the team’s top back.

Mason leads the team in carries (142), rushing yards (628), yards per carry (4.4) and rushing touchdowns (3). Fellow rookie and college teammate Greg Robinson isn’t surprised.

“I kind of figured when he got his opportunity and his chance he was going to be an impact player,” Robinson said. “Just to see that hard work paying off and to see him get more comfortable back there. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

No matter how many people doubt Mason along the way, he’ll never be lacking for confidence.

“I told myself I want to be one of the best players to ever to touch the football, so every day I try to get better. Another person’s talent can sneak up to you, so try to get better every day,” Mason explained.

At 6-7, the Rams have a minuscule chance of making the playoffs. Even if St. Louis falls short of postseason play, they have a potential star in Tre Mason to look forward to.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.