Give this to Tre Mason: He doesn’t lack confidence.
When the Auburn running back was asked during the NFL Scouting Combine in February who he emulates, he all but pointed to his chest.
“I try to model my game after myself,” Mason said. “I want kids to grow up wanting to play like me, so I try to have my own style of play and just play like a savage.”
What, exactly, does that entail?
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“If I had to compare, it would probably be somebody like [Seahawks star] Marshawn Lynch, along the lines of that,” he said. “I can beat you inside, outside, any way. Over you, through you, around you, find a way to get six points.”
In short, exactly what the Dolphins lacked a year ago — and what they hope they found in Knowshon Moreno. The former Broncos tailback signed with Miami as a free agent, lessening the need for the Dolphins to target one in the draft.
But if they want to add one more to a stable that also includes Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee, Mason could be the right fit at the right spot. And there is at least some interest; Mason met with the Dolphins during Combine week.
Why? Running backs have been so devalued that neither Mel Kiper nor Todd McShay, ESPN’s twin draft kings, believes one will be taken in the first round May 8.
On NFLDraftScout.com, no running back ranks in the top 40 overall prospects. It has Mason at No. 54 (the Dolphins’ pick in the second round is at No. 50 overall).
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of flourishing in the NFL.
Analyst Nolan Nawrocki wrote on NFL.com: “The [Southeastern Conference] Player of the Year, Mason is a compactly built, nifty-footed runner with a balanced skill set to merit 20 touches per game at the next level. Fits in multiple schemes and has the chops to make an impact as a rookie.”
Mason certainly believes he can. But moxie isn’t a surprise for the son of Vincent Mason — better know as DJ Maseo of the hip-hop group De La Soul.
“Growing up with my dad being who he is, it just taught me how to stay hungry and humble,” Mason said. “I just learned a lot from him and he helped me throughout my success, how to maintain and how to handle it.”
Might he ever get into the family business?
“Oh, I love music,” he said. “I love music. But me making it? It’s not a pretty sight.”
Instead, carrying the football is his thing. Mason, a Palm Beach County native, went to Park Vista High in Lake Worth, where he rushed for 1,643 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior in 2010.
He picked Auburn over some 20 schools (including Michigan, Texas A&M and FIU), and starred right away, winning SEC Freshman of the Year honors.
But that was nothing compared with his junior campaign, when he ran for 1,816 yards and led Auburn to the national championship game. Not only did Mason obliterate Bo Jackson’s school single-season all-purpose yardage record (going for 2,374 yards), but he also was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
“If [Jackson] was considered one of the best to do it and I broke his [record], then I feel like I should be the No. 1 running back in this draft,” Mason said.