Young Bucks: Size, speed and a rare work-ethic make freshman Austin Mack a player to watch in 2016
Ohio State’s 2016 recruiting class – the country’s fourth-ranked class – featured 25 signees from 11 states and many of those players are expected to contribute to the Buckeyes on-field success early in their careers.
Join Landof10.com as we introduce you to the next wave of Buckeyes in our Young Bucks series. We’ll begin this new series with wide receiver Austin Mack.
Who is Austin Mack?
Simply put, Austin Mack was the wide receiver that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and Buckeyes wide receivers coach Zach Smith wanted the most in the 2016 recruiting class. In July of 2014, Mack was a relative unknown on the recruiting trail, but a big-time performance at Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp thrust him onto the national scene. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, the foundation for a future in Columbus had been laid.
- Height: 6-foot-2
- Weight: 215
- Number: 11
- Hometown: Fort Wayne, Ind.
- High School: Bishop Luers
- Composite Ranking (Position): 10
- High School Highlights
Mack committed to Ohio State in June of 2015 at his high school and, in a rare twist, did so in front of Meyer and Smith, who were guests of a camp being run that afternoon. He was selected to Nike’s prestigious recruiting event, The Opening, in the summer of 2015, and was also a U.S. Army All-American. He finished his senior season with 41 catches for 805 yards and six touchdowns, but also added 13 touchdowns and 718 yards rushing out of the Wildcat position.
The Indiana prep product enrolled early with the Buckeyes, one of seven members of the recruiting class to do so.
What does he bring to Ohio State?
Mack was the top wide receiver target in 2016 for a good reason. He’s got the size to be a mismatch against most cornerbacks on the outside and speed that makes him difficult for any linebacker or safety to cover.
At Big Ten Media Day in Chicago last week, Meyer was asked what makes Mack special and he was effusive in his praise and why Mack may find himself a touch higher on the depth chart than players that have already been on campus for a year, namely Florida athlete Torrance Gibson.
“(There are a) lot of reasons,” Meyer said. “Maturity. (He’s got a) skill set that, he had a receiver coach that worked with him in the offseason. Torrance was a quarterback, so he never had that extra work.”
Mack is polished at wide receiver, which is important join a roster that’s filled with pass catchers who have transitioned from running back or the slot. Mack is a pure wide receiver.
Will he play as a freshman?
In a word, yes. Mack was one of just three freshmen that weren’t required to participate in Sunday morning’s underclassmen practice. He’s been singled out by quarterback and captain J.T. Barrett as well as Meyer himself as someone that’s going to play this fall.
“What I’m seeing from this group – the 2016 group – Jonathon Cooper, Austin Mack, they’re going to play. We do the whole blue, red, gold thing with guys as a rite of passage and a bunch of those guys have already moved up into the red group, which means they’re getting ready to play.”
Next step is gold for Mack, and he’s getting closer to breaking into the regular rotation at wide receiver. He’s had a little help thanks to some unfortunate injuries (Corey Smith, Noah Brown) and long recovery periods for the two players on the roster that fill the same role he does.
By getting into the program early and putting in great work on and off the field, he has put himself into a prime spot for early playing time.