SIGNING DAY 2006 - Deonte Mack

If it's athleticism that IU defensive line coach Brian George wants, that's exactly what Elkhart's Deonte Mack can provide.

If it's athleticism that IU defensive line coach Brian George wants, that's exactly what Elkhart's Deonte Mack can provide.

The 6-3, 275-pounder from Elkhart Central H.S. will arrive in Bloomington next fall with good size and speed along with a label that IU co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Brian George assigned him after he pledged to the Hoosiers in October.

"He says I'm the most athletic defensive tackle he has," said Mack, who also plays basketball and competes in track at the prep level.

George was able to make that assessment after watching Mack compete in Indiana's football camp last summer. It gave the IU defensive line coach a chance to not only see what Mack could do one-on-one on the football field, it also gave the Hoosier coach a chance to spend some one-on-one time with the soon-to-be-Hoosier off the field as well.

That was all George and the IU staff needed to see to offer a scholarship, and it didn't take Mack long to commit, doing so a couple weeks into his high school season.

"He seemed to really like what he saw from me, otherwise he wouldn't have gotten after me," said Mack. "He's said nothing but good things and how he really wants me to be a big contributor. He says he's excited for me to get down there."

Mack shares George's enthusiasm. He admits if he had his druthers he'd have enrolled at IU in January in an effort to get an early start on his college career and to have the chance to participate in spring drills. But Elkhart Central H.S. is on trimesters instead of semesters, making early enrollment all but impossible.

That said, Mack still intends to be a frequent visitor to IU's practice fields once spring practice starts in March.

"I'll definitely be down for spring ball and I'll be around quite a bit," said Mack. "I'm ready to go."

Mack will arrive in Bloomington after a highly productive senior season at Elkhart Central. While his prep team struggled to a 4-6 record and was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, it certainly wasn't due to Mack's play. He recorded 89 tackles this past fall, including 11 tackles for loss and five sacks. He also forced three fumbles, recovered two others, and knocked down five passes at the line of scrimmage.

Those numbers, coupled with the job he did during IU's summer camp a year ago, has the IU staff talking to Mack about trying to get ready as soon as possible and potentially making an impact as a true freshman.

"From talking to Coach George, the defensive line position is kind of wide open, so that's given me that much more thought and energy to go out and work hard and play hard and try to get some playing time next year," said Mack.

There was a time when Mack was an unknown in many recruiting circles. Before he pledged to IU in the fall he wasn't a hot name among national or even regional recruiting pundits, but once he committed to Indiana his decision disappointed a handful of coaches from around the Midwest.

"More schools were starting to come into the school building without knowing that I had verballed (to IU) already," said Mack. "Illinois and some of the bigger MAC schools were coming in and finding out I had already committed. They were kind of mad about that, but I wanted to go ahead and make my commitment because I felt it was the best thing for me."

He's done that, and he's excited about being a part of a program that he firmly believes is headed in the right direction.

"From talking to the players, the biggest thing they've been saying is that the energy is so much better than it had been, and so much more is expected," said Mack. "I'm excited to be a part of that."

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