Practice Tour: Shane Mularkey

NORCROSS, Ga. --- With the Atlanta Falcons' coaching change, Greater Atlanta Christian School lost one of its top two-way players when Bobby Petrino, Jr. followed his father to Arkansas. As luck would have it, the vacant roster spot has been filled by an incoming Falcons' coach's son – Shane Mularkey.

"We kind of joked about it that we'd have to see who we'd pick up in free agency with the new Falcons' staff," GAC head football coach Ken Robinson said. "Boy was [Mularkey] a great pick-up."

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Mularkey, though, won't exactly fill the voids created by Petrino, who played tailback and defensive back at GAC. Instead, Mularkey, a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder, has emerged as the starter at bandit and is also expected to be a major contributor on offense.

"Shane is a big kid that can run, is physical, [and] plays with an edge," Robinson said. "He's going to be a major part to our offense and defense and special teams. We're looking for big things from Shane."

The bandit role is a hybrid position that requires the unique ability to play the pass like a defensive back and play the run like a linebacker.

"He's a guy that plays on the tight end a lot," Robinson said. "He's a guy that has to take on the tight end in the run game. And also we'll play him as a true two-deep safety, as well.

"We feel that [Mularkey] has the skill sets to do all those things – the speed to be able to cover, but also [he's] strong and physical enough to play up in the box against the run. We're going to see some teams down the road that run two tight [end sets] and you have to have a [defensive back] that can play in the box."

Additionally, Mularkey will be asked to blitz several times a game.

"Basically, I'm man-up on the second receiver every time," Mularkey said. "So if it's a tight end or a receiver, I'm either on him or I'm going in [to blitz]."

Heading into the season, Mularkey is projected to play the "R" tight end position in GAC's multiple I offense. However, Robinson says he'll "move him around" throughout the offense.

During a seven-on-seven passing league at Rome (Ga.) Darlington High School, Robinson experimented with moving Mularkey around on offense. No matter where he lined up, Mularkey made an impact.

"He just made plays and lifted his teammates," Robinson said.

As a tight end, Mularkey will be used as a blocker and a receiving option.

"I'd say primarily, I'll be used to block," Mularkey said. "We're a running team for sure. But also, we get out and throw the ball and the tight end is a big receiver in the passing game."

"He's big enough and strong enough to block a defensive end or outside ‘backer, but also athletic enough to run pass routes and get open," Robinson said. "I'm pretty excited about seeing what he does."

After losing 26 seniors following an 11-2 2006 campaign, not much was expected out of GAC's youthful football team last season. However, GAC surpassed the low expectations, going 9-4 and more importantly reaching the GHSA 6A quarterfinals.

"Because this group of seniors played a lot of football [in 2007] expectations are high again," Robinson said.

Having missed his entire junior season with a torn labrum and spent his sophomore year as a reserve, Mularkey's focus in his first true varsity season is to earn a championship ring.

"I just want to stay healthy, play hard, play physical," Mularkey said. "Stats-wise, I just want to win. I just want to win for the team."

Shane Mularkey Profile

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