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Derek Mason
Position: Willie Shaw Director of Defense
Alma Mater: Northern Arizona '92
Experience: 4 Years
Mason Photos

With 2013 marking his fourth season on the Stanford staff, Derek Mason is Stanford’s Willie Shaw Director of Defense.

Stanford announced in April of 2013 that its defensive coordinator position had been endowed by a generous gift from an anonymous donor, named in honor of Willie Shaw, the former Cardinal defensive coordinator and father of head coach David Shaw.

The program’s associate head coach and defensive coordinator since 2011, Mason works closely with the Cardinal secondary personnel.

Mason led the Cardinal to consecutive top-15 national standings in defensive efficiency with steadfast efforts in 2011 and 2012.

Mason, a 2012 Broyles Award finalist, guided a 2012 Stanford defense that was not only one of the finest in the nation, but also one of the best in school history.

Mason’s leadership paved the way to a historic defensive output in 2012, breaking Stanford’s single-season sacks record (57) and pacing the Pac-12 in scoring defense (17.21), total defense (336.21), rushing defense (97.0), sacks (4.07) and tackles for loss (9.00).

Capped off by a Pac-12 title game victory and Rose Bowl crown, the 2012 Cardinal ranked first nationally in sacks, second in tackles for loss, fifth in rushing defense and 11th in scoring defense.

Over the last six games of 2012, Stanford held opponents scoreless in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Stanford held eight of 13 opponents under 100 yards rushing in 2012, and in a string of three consecutive games, the Cardinal recorded three of its top-10 single-game rushing defense performances in school history: No. 3 at Colorado (minus-21 yards), No. 4 vs. Washington State (minus-18) and t-No.9 at California (three). The Cardinal set a school record by allowing only 76 offensive yards at Colorado.

In 11 of its 14 games, Stanford held its opponent to 20 or fewer points. That included a 14-point effort in the overtime win at top-ranked Oregon, who led the FBS with a 54.8 scoring average.
Mason’s defensive backs were pivotal to the historic defense’s efforts, including All-America Ed Reynolds and Rose Bowl Defensive MVP Usua Amanam. Reynolds ranked first nationally with 301 interception return yards, one yard short of the NCAA single-season record.

In his first season as associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator, Mason’s 2011 defense ranked third nationally in rushing defense (84.38), sixth in third-down defense efficiency (31.10) and 11th in sacks (3.00).

Mason teamed with Jason Tarver to mold Stanford into one of the top defensive units in the Pac-12. The Cardinal ranked either first or second in the conference in six defensive categories, including rushing defense (1st - 84.4), third-down conversion defense (1st - 31.1), scoring defense (2nd - 21.9), total defense (2nd - 337.6), sacks-per-game (2nd - 3.00) and opponent first downs (2nd - 17.5). Stanford finished third nationally in rushing defense.

Mason’s 2010 secondary was one of the great turnaround stories in college football, leading Stanford to the 19th-best interceptions total (18) in the nation and 35th-ranked pass defense (202.0). Three players from that defensive backfield went on to play in the NFL.

Prior to his arrival at Stanford for the 2010 season, Mason served as an assistant defensive backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 2007-09, playing a vital role in the team ranking sixth in total defense in 2008 and 2009 as the Vikings won NFC North titles each season.

Mason was introduced to the NFL coaching circles through the Minority Fellowship program in 1996 with the St. Louis Rams and also spent time with the coaching staffs of the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders. He joined the Vikings staff in 2007, where he worked with defensive backs coach Joe Woods.

Prior to joining the Vikings, Mason tutored the wide receivers at Ohio University under head coach Frank Solich and helped the Bobcats improve from 4-7 in 2005 to a 9-5 mark the following season, culminating in an appearance in the GMAC Bowl against Southern Mississippi.

Mason spent the 2004 season as the wide receivers coach at New Mexico State, where he helped the Aggies lead the conference in passing.

During the 2002 campaign, Mason mentored the receivers and assisted with the special teams at Utah. The Utes also featured the NFL Draft’s No. 1 overall pick in quarterback Alex Smith and wide receiver Paris Warren, who was selected in the seventh round.

Mason’s early stops in his coaching career included assignments at San Diego Mesa College (1994), Weber State (1995-96), Idaho State (1997-98) and Bucknell (1999-2001).

As a player, Mason was a two-year starter and four-year letterwinner at Northern Arizona.

A native of Phoenix, Ariz., Mason attended Camelback High School. Derek and his wife, Leighanne, have two daughters, Makenzie and Sydney.

The Mason File

Year Program Position
1994 San Diego Mesa College      Wide Receivers
1995-96 Weber State Wide Receivers
1997-98 Idaho State Running Backs
1999-01 Bucknell Defensive Backs
2002 Utah Wide Receivers
Special Teams Assistant
2003 Saint Mary's Co-Defensive Coordinator
Assistant Head Coach    
2004 New Mexico State Wide Receivers
2005-06 Ohio Wide Receivers
2007-09      Minnesota Vikings Defensive Backs Assistant
2010 Stanford Assistant Coach
2011-12 Stanford Associate Head Coach
Defensive Coordinator
2013 Stanford Willie Shaw Director of Defense