Dec. 13, 2013
Auburn's Tre Mason, left, along with fellow Heisman hopefuls Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois, Jameis Winston of Florida State, Andrew Williams of Boston College and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. Alabama's AJ McCarron will in Saturday (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
NEW YORK -- Tailback Tre Mason grew up around here, about 40 miles away on Long Island, before moving to Florida and before becoming a college football star at Auburn.
But his football journey included, he said, what a lot of little kids dream about.
"'I'm going to win the Heisman one day,'" he remembered Friday.
Mason will find out if his dream will come true Saturday night just off Broadway in the Best Buy Theatre where he and five other Heisman Trophy finalists are honored for their college football accomplishments this season.
"I feel like is also a team award. I can't do this without my team," Mason said. "Without these guys, a lot of these things wouldn't be possible. I wouldn't be here today."
Mason rushed his way here, gaining, so far, 1,621 yards and scroring 22 touchdowns on the season. He punched his ticket here by rushing 304 yards and scoring four touchdown in helping Auburn win the Southeastern Conference Championship just a week ago in Atlanta.
"My coach was like, 'I believe you're going to have a trip to New York. You put up 300 yards in the SEC Championship Game," Mason said.
Gus Malzahn was right, and Mason has been making the rounds ever since. Thursday, he walked the red carpet in Orlando at a college awards show on ESPN. Friday morning, he flew to New York in a preamble to the Heisman ceremony. Friday night, he was whisked away for a New York sightseeing tour.
Mason's family, the ones from Long Island, where he lived until he was "10 or 11"; or the ones from Palm Beach, Fla., will be on hand. So will, at least in spirit, his extended Auburn family, a group that has been impressed with his running, and his humble team-oriented answers about his success.
"It shouldn't be just off stats, but the type of person that person is," Mason said of the Heisman.
Now, he and the other Heisman finalists, including two fellow SEC West friends -- yes, friends -- are waiting to see how they finish. Mason says he can relate to Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel.
"The one that people see as more surprising is the relationship between me and AJ and Johnny," Mason said. "They would think it’s the War Eagle-Roll Tide rivalry, but that’s just something that’s created by the fans. They’re really cool. They’re like brothers to me now already. It just clicked like that. All these guys are down to earth. We’re competing for an award, but it’s a friendly competition."
Of course, Mason and Auburn beat McCarron and Manziel in this surprising season that has carried the Tigers to a 12-1 record and berth in the BCS Championship Game against Florida State on Jan. 6.
Wait, did somebody say Florida State? And Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston? Mason said he likes him, too.
"Just cracking jokes or whatever, but that’s how it is. … He thinks he’s going to get in my head, but it won’t happen," Mason said.
"It's fun being around him and knowing that I'm going to be playing him."
Winston, according to the people who follow such things, is considered the Heisman favorite. But Mason said he'll wait and see, follow the mantra of his team, the one that has surprised all with last-minute wins, with a turnaround season.
"We've been fueled by doubt all year. Everyone has doubted us since Game 1," Mason said. "We don't worry about those things and how people doubt us. We're going to continue to do what we do."
Video: Tre Mason on Heisman Trophy Eve...
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: