A Bright Future
In my 20-something years following football recruiting, I've seen a few in-state football prospects turn down the University of Arkansas for a variety of reasons.
Some of them have been good decisions, but more often than not it hasn't been what they thought it would be.
Pulaski Academy senior offensive lineman Parker Mack (6-4, 305) is the first one I can remember who may do it for Yale or Harvard.
Or one of the other Ivy League schools. Or maybe Duke. Or Vanderbilt. Or Stanford.
"A lot of people just assume while they are in high school that they are eventually going to end up in the NFL," Mack said. "That they are just going to spend four years in college – or maybe even three – and then go straight to the NFL.
"I know that is probably one of the hardest things you can do so I think I am going to go to a school where I can actually get a degree that carries over into the real world, get a nice starting salary and start my life from there," Mack said.
"Judging by how things go politically for me, I might go law, but I am also thinking about pre-med," Mack said. "It just depends on how politics go for me."
There are certainly a lot of schools willing to bring him on board with a plethora of them – such as Arkansas – having put offers on the table as one might expect for a prospect ranked as the ninth-best guard in the country by USA Today.
"It still is at 14 right now," Mack said. "On September 1st, Duke, Harvard, Yale and Illinois called and I had nice conversations with all of them. It is a great deal to build that relationship with coaches at a place you might end up going to school."
Arkansas offensive line coach Mike Summers was at Pulaski Academy's 35-33 win over West Helena on Friday night.
"I have stayed in contact with Arkansas and (recruiting coordinator) Coach (Tim) Horton – he is a great recruiter and a great man," Mack said. "I have also talked to Coach Summers a couple of times and he is also a great guy, knows what he is doing and does it well. I am just trying to stay in contact."
Pulaski Academy led 27-7 on Friday night before a wild West Helena rally tied it up 27-27.
The two teams traded scores again, but the Bruins defense held on the two-point conversion and a final drive to get the win.
"I definitely have to give it up to the defense because the defense won us this one," Mack said. "Our offense really needs to pick it up for next week because I know that CAC is going to be tough. It is always a close game."
Mack is one of the few experienced lineman on the team.
"Our two guards and our center have never played on O-line and our right tackle really hasn't, but he is a senior and has been with us for awhile. I am just trying to put them all under my wing."
He was a little disappointed in his effort to be perfect on the field.
"I didn't have the greatest night," Mack said. "I got beat a couple of times and allowed a couple of quarterback hurries, but overall as a team we played pretty well."
The Cougars were thought to have the edge because of the skill players they had returning, but Mack said that head coach Kevin Kelly would never let his players get into the underdog role anyway.
Pulaski Academy and CAC will meet Thursday night.
"We just assume we are going to win," Mack said. "Coach (Kevin) Kelly always reinforces winning. If you ever act like you even think you are going to lose, he would tell you just to leave and get off the team. He doesn't leave room for anybody having negative thoughts."
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