Dec 21, 2013; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Washington State Cougars running back Theron West (24) blocks the punt of Colorado State Rams punter Hayden Hunt in the first quarter during the Gildan New Mexico Bowl at University Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Theron West has picked up right where he left off in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl nearly five long months ago for the Washington State Cougars, tearing up the field. Meanwhile, we’ve yet to hear much about the “Amazin’ Marcus Mason” this Spring, but rest assured, he’s doing his thing and will be the leader of this group come Fall camp.
Neither running back is very big, but both have big effort even if we don’t hear about the both of them every day. West has come from nowhere to take advantage of the Bowl-prep practices (and of course subsequently the Bowl game) and is using the Spring stage to show he belongs in this, his senior season. He’s clearly the type of player who has to do something to stand out in a crowd and he’s really caught the eye of Mike Leach as of late, drawing the words “he’s actually kind of becoming a leader” from the coach’s mouth.
West brings other qualities to the field beyond the ability to play running back. He can be thrown into the slot and is a valuable special teams player. Ever since a blocked punt early in that Bowl game, he’s come on big. Leach didn’t necessarily see this coming either, here’s what he had to say about the 5’8 firebug when asked if he saw West taking a leadership role ever in his career.
"No, I did not… His focus is better, the whole recipe is pretty simple. Just focus on what you’re doing and do it to the best of your ability. Then you develop the ability to do it over and over more often and pretty soon you’re a pretty good player. Cause he’s talented enough. One thing with him is he got in shape too."
Nov 16, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Washington State Cougars running back Marcus Mason (35) warms up before the first quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Meanwhile we’ve rarely heard anything about Mason this Spring, but that’s a good thing. He is the type of kid who is very consistent, so much so in fact that he rarely stands out. My dad would call him a “silent warrior”, because he’s not the type of guy to make a scene or flaunt his talent. He just seems to get it done day-in and day-out.
Mason’s been running with the two’s until Saturday saw him out of the four-man rotation, but rest assured, that has little bearing on where Mason is going to be when game time rolls around in five and a half months.
Running backs coach Jim Mastro raved about all five backs when the coaches were in Spokane before the Spring began, saying he’s never coached a stable like the one he has at Wazzu currently. Pretty high praise from a guy who led some vaunted running attacks at Nevada.
Mason led the Cougars in all-purpose yards in 2013, so even though the Cougs place a premium on competition there’s just no way he’ll be surpassed in the lineup, barring injury. The good news is that when Mason isn’t getting the reps, those that are, are taking advantage of their opportunities. Gerard Wicks, Jamal Morrow and Teondray Caldwell have all made big plays in team drills this Spring.