Former Auburn running back Tre Mason plans to make his music on the football field.
Mason, the son of Vincent “DJ Maseo” Mason of the Grammy Award winning hip hop group De La Soul, is not musically inclined.
“Not at all,” said Mason, who considers himself the top-rated back in the NFL draft, which is set for May 8-10. “That’s my dad’s forte, that’s not me. Oh, I love music, but me making it? It’s not a pretty sight.”
Mason said his father’s musical accomplishments have been educational for him.
“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.”
While helping Auburn power its way to the national championship game last season, Mason had a breakout junior year. He became the first non-quarterback to lead Auburn in total offense since Bo Jackson in 1985. Mason rushed for 1,816 yards, had 163 yards receiving and 395 yards on kickoff returns and was a Heisman Trophy finalist.
His output is even more remarkable considered that he wasn’t the Tigers main ball carrier at the outset of last season.
“Who knows, but I feel like I would’ve been able to touch 2,000 yards,” Mason said. “That was the goal. At one point I started to say, maybe I need to get to 2,000 yards.”
Mason believes his skills project well to the NFL.
“If I had to compare, it would probably be somebody like Marshawn Lynch, along the lines of that,” Mason said of his running style. “I can beat you inside, outside, anyway. Over you, through you, around you, (I can) find a way to get six points.”
Mason, Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde and Washington’ Bishop Sankey are the top three pro running back prospects.
“I feel like I’m the best running back in this draft class because I broke Bo Jackson’s rushing record in the season,” Mason said. “If he was considered one of the best to do it and I broke his (mark), then I feel like I should be the No. 1 running back in this draft.”
Some NFL teams have concerns about Mason’s pass-blocking ability. He wasn’t asked to pass-block much last season since the Tigers were a run-heavy team.
“I think third round for Mason,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “His blocking needs to improve. He caught the ball better. He’s an excellent runner. He’s a Ray Rice-type runner.”
At 240 pounds, Hyde is a bigger back who will be attractive to cold-weather teams.
“He could have a rookie year like Eddie Lacy had in Green Bay,” Kiper said. “Hyde’s more of a mid- to late-second (-round pick). He’ll be the first running back taken.”
Isaiah Crowell, who started his career at Georgia, is an intriguing prospect. After winning the SEC offensive freshman of the year honors in 2011, he was dismissed from the team. He resurrected his career at Alabama State, an FCS school in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
“He’s had his moments,” Kiper said. “I think he’s a later-round (pick) or priority free agent who will make a team. He can make people miss. He’s got enough of a burst.”
This is likely to be the second straight year that a running back won’t be taken in the first round.
Last season, Giovani Bernard, who was taken in the second round (37th overall) by Cincinnati, was the first running back selected. That marked the first time since 1963 that a running back was not selected in the first round.
In all, five backs were selected in the second round last spring, including Lacy, who was named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year.
“The running backs in last year’s group and where they were drafted might have been the best example of how that position is viewed,” Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert said. “Is it because it’s more of a passing league or are there other factors at work?
“I think it’s a result of what’s happening in college football. The running back, for the most part in a lot of offenses, the majority are spread offenses. They’re not emphasized as much, so you don’t get to see as much production or dominance.”