Eckel. Ballard. Kettani. Mack?
The Midshipmen have had no shortage of successful fullbacks over the last seven years in Annapolis, with seemingly each successive runner brining a unique combination of thunder and lightning to the position. With last year’s starter Eric Kettani graduating and moving on to a possible NFL future, the Midshipmen now look to restock at the position for future seasons, with several talented high school recruits coming in to the program for 2009. One of those recruits is Jarred Mack, a 5-10, 210-pound running back from Clear Lake High School in Texas. With 4.5 second speed in the 40-yard dash and a high football IQ in the triple option offense, Mack comes to Annapolis this summer bent on meeting the challenges of being both a Midshipmen and a Division I football player. I recently caught up with the former All-District performer, and learned why he thinks that he is the perfect fit in Navy’s unique option offense.
Adam Nettina (AN): Did you attend the Blue and Gold Game in Annapolis? If so, how was your experience? Have you met any of your future Navy teammates yet?
Jarred Mack (JM): I did not attend the game in Annapolis. I was planning on it but put in the end I just was not able to make it. I have met some players though; many on my visit and I already knew Patrick Snow since he attended my high school. Bo Snelson - who goes to school right down the road - will also be going to the Academy with me.
AN: Take us through your recruitment. Which schools were interested in you, and which ones offered you scholarships. Ultimately, why did you choose to attend the Naval Academy?
JM: Army offered me a scholarship at the end of my senior year. I believe we had one more game left. I choose the Naval Academy because the football team is outstanding and the coaches made me feel right at home. By attending the Academy I feel like many doors will be opened for me in the long run. It is just a good opportunity to succeed in life. .
AN: Navy’s triple option is obviously known for producing some great fullback in recent years, including Eric Kettani, who recently signed with the New England Patriots. Is there a particular past Navy fullback you think you compare to? How did the emphasis on the position effect the way you treated Navy while going through your recruitment?
JM: I don’t know that much about Navy football history but I think I could become a great football player. I could care less about what position I’m playing as long as I’m playing. I’ll even play quarterback – it’s all good with me (laughs).
AN: I understand you played in a similar style of offense in high school. Was that a major role in your decision to attend Navy? Do you think that experience will help give you an advantage when it comes to competing against other incoming fullbacks?
JM: Yes. My high school runs the exact same offense as Navy runs. I think it was a big part of the recruiting process. I like running the option - it has its pros and cons but ultimately I think it is superior to other offenses. My middle school ran the option also, so when it is all said and done I will have had experience in the same offense for 10 years. I think it will be helpful in getting on the field since I know the offense already.
AN: What do you think your greatest are attributes as a runner? Do you see yourself primarily as a ‘B’-back, or do you think you could transition to another position (either on offense or defense) if asked to?
JM: I get going downhill pretty fast and hit pretty well. I like fullback and halfback but don't prefer one over the other. I’d be willing to play any position on the field. Trying to get another Commander in Chief trophy and bowl berth!!!!!
AN: Will you be attending the Naval Academy Preparatory School or will you be coming to Annapolis direct?
JM: I will be coming in direct. I believe I can take on the academic challenges and the military ones as well.
AN: Have you begun any special training routine to prepare for both the rigors of being a Midshipman and the challenges of being a Division I football player?
JM: I train four days a week with a trainer I know. I am getting faster, stronger and quicker. I feel this will help me prepare for the rigors of being a Midshipman.
AN: Do you know what you want to major in?
JM: I was planning on going into medicine but now I’m not so sure. I think I want to fly so something related to aviation could be a possibility for me in the future.
AN: What do you know about the service commitment for after you graduate? Have any potential service selections (Marine Corps, Surface Warfare, Aviation, etc…) especially interested you?
JM: I know of the five year commitment and it doesn't bother me at all. I am actually looking forward to it. I think I am going to go into aviation.
AN: Finish the sentence. The one thing Navy fans should know about me is…
JM: The one thing Navy fans should know about me is that I come to do work.
Adam Nettina welcomes reader comments and questions. He can be reached at AdamNettina[at]gmail.com.