Following the end of his tenure at Vanderbilt, Derek Mason had plenty of opportunities this offseason before he decided to accept the defensive coordinator position at Auburn.

While opportunities at LSU and South Carolina were the ones most connected to Mason’s name before he picked Auburn, the new defensive coordinator on The Plains said he was likely headed to the NFL before Bryan Harsin reached out to him.

“I thought I was going back to the NFL, to be honest. I didn’t think I was going to take a college job,” Mason said on Monday. “I felt like for me, maybe I needed a break from the college game, just a little bit. After seven years at Vanderbilt and having been contacted by several college teams and their opportunities.”

So what changed for Mason?

His previous relationship with Harsin gave the Tigers a shot but it was the meetings Mason had with Auburn’s new coach that really sealed the deal.

“I think for us, there were so many things we connected on,” Mason continued. “Some of those ideas were philosophical, some of those ideas were just about life and ball and how we see family.

“And so, when we had an opportunity to talk, the conversation was very much to the point of his vision of Auburn. And that vision was set in stone, it was very strategic, it had all the making of what I thought a good leader should talk about coming into a situation like this, which I thought was unique.”