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Auburn RB Tre Mason putting off thoughts of NFL draft entry

Auburn running back Tre Mason is enjoying a career-best season entering Saturday's SEC championship game against Missouri. He has 1,317 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns for an 11-1 team that could be on the brink of a national championship appearance.

This week, the junior said he is considering an early jump to the NFL. But as tempting as it may be for Mason to parlay this year's success into being a 2014 NFL Draft pick -- particularly given that he plays the position with the shortest average pro career -- Mason is putting off those thoughts for now.

"Of course the NFL crosses my mind," Mason said, according to "I still feel like it's too early to make that decision. That's my dream, and after the season I'll be able to make that decision."

Mason leads the SEC in rushing and, at his pace of 109.8 yards per game, figures to cross the 1,500-yard mark in the Tigers' bowl game. He is just 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, but to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, Mason plays bigger than he measures.

"He is a hard-nosed runner, a very physical runner," Malzahn said. "To get the rushing yards he did against the team (Alabama) last week, that's rare, and he deserves a lot of credit. It's tough to get yards against those guys. It says a lot about him. I think he's one of the better running backs in the entire country, too."

Mason has until Jan. 15 -- the NFL's draft-decision deadline for college underclassmen -- to declare his intentions. He joins at least three other SEC rushers facing the same decision as underclassmen -- LSU's Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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