Fresh off a transcendent finish to the 2013 college football season, Tre Mason has declared for the 2014 NFL draft.
Auburn football's Twitter feed gave a snapshot of the junior running back's announcement, while AL.com's Joel A. Erickson provided the quote:
Tre Mason: "After all the thought, talking to family and friends. ... I'm going to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft."— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAEricksonAU) January 9, 2014
Other than his Tigers eventually coming up just short against the Florida State Seminoles in the BCS National Championship, Mason really couldn't have gone out on much higher of a note.
After a fairly up-and-down start to his season, including four of five games below the 100-yard rushing mark, Mason took it to an other-worldly level when the Tigers needed him most.
He gashed Alabama for 164 yards and a touchdown on the ground in the Iron Bowl, set five individual SEC championship game records with 304 rushing yards and four scores against Missouri, and tallied over 200 total yards and found the end zone two more times against FSU.
When will Mason be drafted?
Mason finished the year with 1,816 yards and 23 touchdowns rushing, and was a Heisman finalist.
Of course, he's not just about stats.
As he displayed in the title game, he has impressive burst, can hit holes in a hurry and can make defenders look silly with his cutting ability. At 5'10" and 205 pounds, though, his strength and toughness may just be his greatest attributes.
If his bone-crushing touchdown run late in the championship game wasn't enough evidence of that, take head coach Gus Malzahn's word for it, via Erickson:
"They're getting one of the tougher individuals in college football," Malzahn said. "He can run between the tackles, he's got courage."— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAEricksonAU) January 9, 2014
Mason reveals, per Erickson, how the NFL advisory board graded him:
Mason says he received a third-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory board— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAEricksonAU) January 9, 2014
CBS Sports' draft rankings slot Mason as the No. 2 running back behind Ka'Deem Carey and a projected second-round pick, while Bleacher Report's Matt Miller believes the top positional spot will come down to Mason and Ohio State's Carlos Hyde:
Auburn RB Tre Mason to declare for NFL draft, per @JoelAEricksonAU. Will be a race between he and Carlos Hyde for my top RB spot.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 9, 2014
While his position makes it unlikely he will be a first-round pick, Mason has proven over the past several months that he is easily one of the best ball-carriers in this class.