AUBURN | Most incoming college freshmen are focused on adjusting to their new college life and preparing for the rigors of their first season, especially at a place like Auburn, and in a conference like the SEC.
For Lake Worth, Fla. true freshman running back Tre Mason, that is no different.
Mason finally arrived to Auburn days before the Tigers' began fall practice after awaiting clearance from the NCAA regarding his ACT score. Mason finally received the good news from head coach Gene Chizik during a phone call that informed Mason that he earned a 21 on his ACT. He only needed a 19.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Mason enters the Auburn backfield with an opportunity for early playing time, but sits behind sophomore Michael Dyer, junior Onterio McCalebb and junior Anthony Morgan on the depth chart.
But Mason believes he's capable of an early impact.
Mason's mentor early in practice has been Dyer, who rushed for 1,093 yards in his freshman season in 2010, and is already teaching Mason on how the young back can improve his game and contribute.
"He's been through the system. He's run all the plays. He's been like a big brother to me. He actually helped me through every step. Anything I get wrong, he corrects me," Mason said.
Where Mason is special is his understanding of his responsibility of being more than a great football player for the defending national champions, it's about being a role model for his younger brother back home.
Mason's younger brother Chauncey is 14, and Mason understands that actions on the field - and off it - carry with them consequences. Mason's ready to take on the challenge of fulfilling his dreams of playing in the NFL and setting a good example for his younger brother in the process.
"I have to keep myself at a high standard because I know there are kids that look up to me, as well as other players, so we have to be a good role model to them," Mason said.
"I have always had that mentality that people don't just watch me on the field, they watch me off the field. I have to maintain great character and set an example for a lot of people, not just my brother. I want to set a good example for him, I know if I do bad he will want to do bad, so I definitely don't want him going down the wrong path."
Mason's famous father Vincent, better known as D.J. Maseo from the music group De La Soul, has been thrilling crowds for over twenty-years. Mason credits his father for his level headed mindset.
"It keeps me on the right path," said Mason. "My dad was successful. He always told me: Put your mind where you want it to be. Just go hard at it because anything is possible."
Mason's popularity in Lake Worth has only grown since earning a scholarship to Auburn. It's not just his younger brother keeping a watchful eye on Mason's actions at the next level.
"I have noticed that this past spring I would show up to watch my cousin play little league baseball and I would notice other kids would know who I am and know I'm going to Auburn," Mason said. "They just come up to me asking questions and asking what they should do to be doing what I'm doing."
What Mason did in high school was rush for almost 4,500 yards his last three seasons, including 1,643 yards as a senior with 24 touchdowns. Mason is determined to carry that success with him to Auburn.
"I want to come in as a freshman and rush for as many yards as a I can," said Mason. "I want to be a thousand-yard rusher, I feel have that I have the capability of doing that as a freshman, but I just want to come in and make an immediate impact and help the team get another ring."
Auburn running backs coach Curtis Luper echoed those sentiments on Monday after the Tigers' first full pads practice.
"Tre is about 190-pounds, cat-quick, smart, tough, he's going to be better than people think," said Luper. "He will play."
Mason said his reporting weight of 190-pounds was on target and coach Chizik wants him to ultimately play at 200-pounds or more after gaining the proper weight.
With high expectations from his hometown followers, including his brother and himself, Mason still credits the determination of his parents in allowing him to be where he is today.
While Mason's father was on the road more than not, he still found time to be at both Mason's commitment announcement to Auburn and his signing day ceremony.
Mason said he is grateful and is working each day to set an example for others, the same example his parents set for him.
"It was important for them to be there when I committed and signed," said Mason. "But my parents have always dropped everything to support us."