Monday, February 24, 2014
Bond has Mason excited for USC future
By Blair Angulo
PASADENA, Calif. -- Karman Wright felt the tears welling up in her eyes. She told herself she wouldn’t cry, but overcome with happiness, the news made it difficult to hold back.
Standing in the office of Steve Sarkisian earlier this month, Wright heard the USC coach tell her son, fast-rising cornerback Taeon Mason (Pasadena, Calif./Muir), that he had a scholarship offer from the Trojans. What followed caught the proud mother completely off guard.
Class of 2015 cornerback Taeon Mason committed to USC on the spot when offered earlier this month.
“I had no idea he was going to commit right then and there,” Wright said. “I’m pretty sure Taeon didn’t know either, but the coaches treated him good and showed him a lot of love. I was so excited, I was ready to cry.”
Wright held onto those tears as overwhelming joy set in. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Mason had bagged only one other offer (Oregon State), but the Elite Junior Day experience was so striking that USC would have likely been the choice even if he had every other Pac-12 school chasing him.
It was a special moment for mother and son following a brief period of uncertainty.
“Last year, Taeon just wasn’t feeling football,” Wright said. “His heart wasn’t in it like it was usually. I had to talk with him to see what was going on. He was tired, both physically and mentally. But he overcame that and loves this. He’s a humble kid and meeting the challenges very well. As far as taking the next step, I know he’s going to do great.”
A major factor in the quick pledge was the relationship Mason had previously developed with defensive backs coach Keith Heyward at Washington. USC junior-to-be Kevon Seymour was also given credit -- Seymour attended the same high school as Mason, and the two have known each other for nearly a decade.
“We grew up together,” Mason said. “He’s like my brother.”
The two friends exchange text messages frequently, especially during the season when Seymour offers advice and words of encouragement to his young apprentice. Their connection might become more personal if Mason joins the Trojans in 2015 given that they would have a year to train together. It would be an ideal scenario for an incoming freshman.
“Kevon is sort of a mentor, for sure. They’re very tight,” Wright said. “They have a great bond. Kevon keeps Taeon on the right track. It’s a great relationship.”
The pledge was, in many ways, immense for Mason, who grew up a fan of the Florida Gators before being mesmerized by Reggie Bush. He might still be considered a raw prospect -- USC, Mason said, is recruiting him at both cornerback and receiver -- and he also plays baseball and runs track. But Mason might focus entirely on football starting this summer while training with Team D1, a Pasadena-based 7-on-7 squad that also features ESPN 300 recruits Marvell Tell (Pasadena, Calif./Crespi) and Desean Holmes (Pasadena, Calif./Muir).
The recruiting process won't end, either. Mason, who scored 18 total touchdowns and added six interceptions last season, has garnered additional interest from Arizona State and UCLA, and said he would continue to listen to other college coaches in hopes of building options.
With national signing day a year away, though, a spot in USC's recruiting class has Mason smiling and his mother holding back tears.
“I wanted the commitment to happen,” Mason said. “It’s only going to make me work harder and step up my game. That’s going to make me a better player. I won’t take anything lightly.”