Call him Amazin' Marcus Mason

IT WAS ONLY fitting that the award junior running back Marcus Mason received at Washington State's season-ending banquet last weekend was tucked modestly near the bottom of the press release outlining who all was saluted for what. Fitting because the workman-like Mason quietly put together one heck of a season, rushing and receiving his way to more touches and yards than anyone on the team.

For the record, Marcus Mason received the Randall Simmons Award/Offense. In the old days it was called the offensive coaches award, and it pretty much goes to an unsung guy coaches know they can count on every snap of every game. On defense, the Simmons recipient was linebacker Justin Sagote.

So you get the picture: a blue color, lunch bucket type who just gets the job done.

And so it was for Mason in 2013. With 83 rushing carries, 49 pass receptions and 3 kickoff returns, nobody this side of quarterback Connor Halliday game close to center stage as often as he did: 135 times. By way comparison, fellow running back Teondray Caldwell was second with 84 touches, while leading receiver Gabe Marks was third, at 69.

Mason topped the team in all-purpose yards with 842. Those hashes were accumulated this way: 424 rushing, 372 receiving and 46 kick returning. Ricky Galvin was second (824) followed by Marks (770) and Caldwell (700).

Here's what else stands out about Mason's 2013:

  • He was the team's leading rusher and the second-leading receiver.
  • He averaged 7.6 yards per catch and 5.1 yards per rush; and
  • He gave no hint of this production last season, when he touched the ball all of 25 times for 65 yards.

    Cougs vs. Rams


    Where: New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque

    When: Saturday, Dec. 21

    Kickoff: 11 a.m. PT

    TV: ESPN

    Line: Cougs by 4

    Series: Never played before


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    Back in September, the Monday after the Cougars defeated USC in Week 2, when it had become clear Mason wasn't going to be bit player this season, he told reporters matter-of-factly: "It's always just so exciting to play, you're rarely going to see me without a smile on my face."

    That one sentence speaks volumes about what this 5-9, 188-pounder brings to the field.

    MASON'S ARRIVAL ON CENTER STAGE in this, WSU's first bowl season in a decade, wasn't really in the forecast during his senior year at Etiwanda High near Los Angeles. Washington State was the only school to offer him a scholarship. And even then, the offer came in a round-about way. Just a couple of weeks before LOI Day in 2011, Bishop Sankey reneged on his verbal pledge to WSU, creating an opening in the backfield in WSU's recruiting class.

    Mason said he was at home "by myself, sitting down, probably eating a Hot Pocket or something" when WSU's then-recruiting coordinator Rich Rasmussuen, the personnel director at Boise State the last two seasons, called with the scholarship offer. Mason committed a day or two later and took his official visit to Pullman that coming weekend.

    Mason had a stellar senior season at Etiwanda, collecting more than 1,800 all-purpose yards, but it was his first full year on offense. He had primarily been a safety up to that point. In this era of earlier and earlier verbals, a player's junior season typically is the difference between getting on college radars or not.

    FIGHTING FOR THE EXTRA YARD


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