Auburn’s Best Running Back: Tre Mason vs Bo Jackson


The history of running backs to come through Auburn University is outstanding. It was hard compiling a list of them a few articles ago. When ranking a personal top 5 a lot of aspects were put into play. NFL careers and records were a focal point, but some of the more modern backs were left out. Backs like Ben Tate, Rudi Johnson, and Tre Mason all came just short of the list. The backs that were included all had a somewhat extensive football career and have had time to let their impression set in.

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Let us look at Tre Mason in specific.

Mason had 1,643 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns in his senior season at Park Vista High School in Palm Beach Florida. ranked Tre Mason as the No. 14 running back in America, so his later success at Auburn University came as many anticipated.

Mason received First Team All-SEC honors and finished as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He was also one of only six Auburn running backs to have back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons.

His performance in the SEC Championship is probably the most memorable performance of his career at Auburn. It was the second best single-game rushing effort in Auburn History. He accounted for 304 yards and four touchdowns.

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Where Tre Mason’s statistics look the most appealing are in his junior season at Auburn. If he’d stayed at Auburn, he would have the opportunity to stretch those statistics even further. His progress with Gus Malzahn was incredible, especially with the coaching circumstances (cough.. cough.. Chizik).

In Mason’s freshman year he weighed 190 lbs. He often dropped the ball and wasn’t used as a workhorse until his final season. By that time, he had gained 15 pounds and jumped to 205 pounds. He became faster than ever, bigger than ever, and developed game awareness that wasn’t there in his early career.

Where Mason and Jackson have their separation is their consistency. Jackson rushed for a 5.5+ yard average through all four seasons at Auburn. He was an immediate impact on the team and was the primary reason for key victories in Auburn history.

He finished with 1,816 yards rushing his final season and found pay dirt 23 times. With bowl games included, this topped Bo Jackson’s senior season rushing benchmark.

In Jackson’s senior season he finished with 1,786 yards and 17 touchdowns. These touchdowns were earned very differently than Mason’s beastly performance in 2013.

When looking at both of these phenomenal backs in comparison, it can be tricky in some places. Both backs have set records, put the team in positions to win, and flat out ran over their opponents.

The most memorable play was “Bo Over the Top” and marked the end of a nine-year losing streak to in state rival Alabama. As a freshman, Jackson changed the culture of Auburn with one fourth down play.

That play not only gave Auburn a win over their rival, but confidence to again have success in the SEC.

In Jackson’s sophomore season in 1983, he continued to make fan’s heads turn and showed the rest of the college football world just how dominant he could be.

On October 29, 1983 Auburn hosted the Florida Gators in a high stakes conference game. The Tigers were ranked 4th nationally and the Gators were ranked 5th. Bo Jackson scored on the first play from scrimmage, which was a 55-yard run.

This run is a great example of how Bo Jackson established his name early in Auburn Football history. Jackson finished the game with 196 rushing yards and two touchdowns. What makes this all the more fascinating is the fact that he continued to play for two more seasons.

The media and the rest of the world had caught up to Bo by the time he was a senior. He was honored the Heisman Trophy at the end of his senior season in 1985.

What makes Bo Jackson the best running back in Auburn history is the early impact that he made. He established that he would be the premiere back for Auburn the second he arrived. His statistics and accomplishments further promote his effort.

Tre Mason was incredible through his final season at Auburn University. He helped Auburn complete the biggest single season turnaround in history. Being a product of Gus Malzahn helped him in many ways. If not for the interdependent parts within his system, Mason’s success could’ve been drastically different.

The 2012-2013 coaching changes made a huge impact on Mason’s career.

Bo Jackson brought back history and culture to Auburn when all hope was lost. He brought it back through plays that often times relied on him.

It is because of his effort that the Auburn fan base can remain strong in rough seasons of play. He was more than just a player making big plays, he was a legend who took it upon himself to change history.

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