Trevon Mason can play any position on the defensive line, and in his three seasons at Arizona he’s done just that. But in his final year with the Wildcats he’s stuck to one spot, tackle, where he believes he’s destined to play at the next level.
And if he makes the NFL, his decision to come back to the UA and play for defensive coordin Don Brown and D-line coach Ricky Hunley will have played a big role in that.
“I like the way Coach Brown coaches, I like that hard coaching,” Mason said on Tuesday, his first time speaking to reporters in more than two years. “Last time I had that was in JUCO. I like these coaches. I wish I had one more year here.”
Mason said Brown and Hunley “don’t care if you’re the star player” and will get on you when you mess up on a play.
“They’re not like screaming at you because they hate you, they’re screaming at you to make you better,” he said. “Everybody needs that, I feel like.”
It’s been a solid final year at UA for Mason, who is second on the team in sacks (2.5) and tackles for loss (five). He has two sacks and three TFL in his last two games, helping the Wildcats hold their last two opponents to just 205 rushing yards and a yards-per-carry average of 2.66.
The UA is allowing 181.1 rushing yards per game, which is 10th in the Pac-12 but is a major improvement from the 270.6 allowed per game in 2020.
“I think we’re playing much better against the run, much more physical,” Brown said. “We’ve certainly cleaned that up in the last two weeks.”
A lot of that has to do with Mason, who at 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds is a massive presence in the middle. He’s started six of seven games, missing the NAU contest because of injury, and his play inside combined with nose tackle Kyon Barrs and defensive ends Mo Diallo and Jalen Harris have made the D-line Arizona’s most-improved position group from a year ago.
Playing in a 4-man front was a big reason Mason chose to return to Arizona. In 2020, in Paul Rhoads’ 3-man front, Mason played more on the end than inside.
“I’m in a 4-man front, 3-tech, I get to make a lot of plays,” he said. “And I can play nose. I don’t have to play end because we have ends and anchors and stuff, so I feel like it was it worth it.”
The year before Mason got to play with Roy Lopez Jr., who went on to get drafted by the Houston Texans and is now starting for them. He says he keeps in touch with Lopez—“we still chop it up”—and he’s using what Lopez was able to accomplish despite the Wildcats’ struggles as added motivation to keep pushing during a 19-game losing streak.
“We had a losing season and he still got drafted, so I know there’s hope out there,” Mason said.