When the Arizona Wildcats announced the bulk of their signings from the 2019 recruiting class back in December, that list included a quartet of junior college transfers who were expected to contribute immediately.
Among those was Trevon Mason, a defensive tackle who was projected to play a huge role in revamping Arizona’s depleted front. Yet when spring ball began, Mason was nowhere to be found.
A failed statistics class back at Navarro College in Texas prevented Mason from graduating last winter, and it wasn’t until July 10 that he completed that course in order to transfer to Arizona. That was only two weeks before the Wildcats were set to begin preseason training camp, and the clock was ticking for him to arrive on time.
“Like the day before fall camp,” Mason said when asked when he finally showed up in Tucson. “I got accepted into school the day before.”
As a result, Mason spent most of camp trying to get up to speed—and in playing shape—in order to play a significant role this season. He wasn’t concerned about figuring out Arizona’s schemes, it was the conditioning that he knew was going to be a problem.
“I knew I was there with my hands and all that,” the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Mason said. “I was tired the first week, like gassed.”
Mason said he didn’t feel like he was fully ready to go until Arizona’s third game, Sept. 14 against Texas Tech, which is also when he started for the first time. He had four tackles in that game, one for loss, and for the season has nine tackles with the TFL.
The academic hiccup was unfortunately not a new thing for Mason, who admits he didn’t take high school seriously until college recruits started showing up at his high school in Arlington, Texas.
“My junior year when all the college coaches were coming and (saying) you could be in the league one day, I just woke up,” he said. “I knew I was going JUCO. I didn’t have the grades in high school.”
At Navarro, Mason recorded 49 tackles with four sacks in two seasons. He received several scholarship offers, picking Arizona over Nebraska and Southern Miss because his D-line coach at Navarro (Chris Achuff) is now on the staff of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
“I looked up to him, I just wanted to be somewhere close to him,” Mason said of Achuff.
Mason said JUCO is “where you meet your brothers,” since most players are in similar situations as him and have to work to get where they want to go. He said Division I players who transferred down often didn’t make it.
Maybe that’s because they’d become used to all the perks of D-I football, things Mason had no idea he was entitled to when he joined Arizona.
“I showed up and they gave me some stuff and I was like, ‘can we keep this?’,” he said. Gear. Shoes, shirts. In JUCO you had to give it back right after you got done using it.”