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Mason’s D Big Reason Stanford Football In Top Tier

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Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason. (CBS Sports)

Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason. (CBS Sports)

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PALO ALTO (CBS Sports) — When people talk about the new Stanford, they might as well be talking about Noor Davis. The blue-chip prospect is emblematic of the Cardinal’s upgrade in athleticism — a trend that has been fueled by a run of BCS bowls — to match the school’s prestigious academic standing.

Davis is the chiseled 6-foot-4, 227-pound nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett. A year ago, he came to Palo Alto after having won the 2011 High School Butkus Award given to the nation’s best prep linebacker. He is also an honor student and so impressive that he’ll be interning this summer with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has an office at Stanford. But early in an afternoon practice this spring, Noor Davis drew the attention of the last guy anyone on the Cardinal defense wants to let down.

“YOU GOTTA RUN, SONNNN!!!” rumbled a booming voice that could probably be heard clearly at the water polo practice 1,000 yards away after Davis didn’t turn and sprint in a team pursuit drill.

You’d have expected such a voice to emanate from deep in the gut of a 300-pound former nose guard, not a compactly built, short ex-cornerback, but Derek Mason’s presence is anything but small at Stanford. The Cardinal defensive coordinator is not about to let anyone loaf on his watch.

“He’s got a hell of a growl,” senior linebacker Shayne Skov said of Mason, who has emerged as a rising star in the business after consecutive seasons where Stanford has finished in the top five in run defense while leading the nation in sacks and finishing second in TFLs in 2012. “He’s intense, man. As groups improve, sometimes they kind of lose that hunger, he keeps everybody on point at all times.”

READ MORE from CBS Sports on Stanford’s Derek Mason…

(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco & CBS Interactive. All rights reserved.)

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