When USC stole away a Washington State commit back in October, that seemed fairly normal. When the Cougars gained a commitment from a former Trojan commit yesterday, that's not something you see every day.
Regardless of the circumstances of why it happened, cornerback Taeon Mason is a big get for the Cougs. He shined more on offense and special teams at the high school level, so what kind of player is Wazzu getting at cornerback in Mason?
Taeon Mason - 3 star cornerback
There is limited film of Mason playing cornerback as opposed to playing offense, so a lot of the evaluation comes from seeing what kind of athlete he is on offense and translating it to the other side of the football. He consistently shows great speed as a receiver. It's the kind of the speed that suggests he can run with just about anyone he lines up against. He also flashes some good lateral agility.
Mason is listed at 6'0", but I wouldn't be surprised if he is a bit shorter than that. He definitely has good enough height and length to play cornerback though. He's extremely slim right now and needs to add some weight and strength, which he hopefully will do once he gets to Pullman and starts in their strength and conditioning program. That size is a bit concerning because in the limited film you see of him coming up and tackling to support the run, he catches more than wraps up.
He's very raw in his technique right now as a corner. He's often standing flat footed and waiting for the receiver before becoming an athlete and mirroring him. It's impressive to watch him flip his hips and go, but he won't be able to do that in the Pac-12. I flat out didn't get to see him in his backpedal. He was just bailing out and trying to make contact to slow receivers down. He has the athletic ability to play the position, but he is going to be starting from scratch in a lot of areas.
One thing I did see him do well is read the quarterback's eyes in zone coverage and make a play on the football. The ball skills he has at receiver clearly translate to him being able to intercept the football.
If Mason is a fast learner, he is physically talented enough to come in and run with most receivers in the Pac-12. He'll have a steep learning curve and, if he can't pick it up fast enough, he'll have a shot at contributing in the return game first.