Big Mack Attack

At 6-foot-4, 278 pounds, Leon Mackey isn't known as Neon but the Newark, Del., D-lineman is definitely a prime time talent with star power and NFL potential. Better still the much sought after prospect has a strong interest in Tennessee.

Mackey may have been the nation's best kept secret cloistered on the coastal plain of the second smallest state in the union, but he broke out in a big way by earning MVP honors at three prestigious combines this spring. He possesses the size to develop into a defensive tackle along with the speed and athleticism to remain at defensive end.

As impressive a physical specimen as he is with muscles by Rodin and no hint of body fat, it might be easy to overstate Mackey's talents, but his numbers don't lie. At the Combine in Randolph, N.J., he turned a 4.78 time in the 40, a 7.56 in the L-Cone drill and a spectacular 4.37 in the short shuttle. He surpassed nine feet in the standing broad jump and posted a 32-inch vertical leap. Add an all encompassing wingspan with solid technique and a nonstop motor, and there's little wonder he overwhelmed some of the top O-linemen prospects in one-on-one challenges.

Leon Mackey, who moved to defensive end from tight end at Christiana High School as a junior, only garnered second team All-Conference honors and was something of an unknown on the national scene before his breakout performances this spring. A year of experience on defense as well as hard work in the weight room made the difference and offer testimony of his unlimited upside.

Going into April Mackey only had a scholarship offer from Pittsburgh, but as word spread of his combine exploits the floodgates opened and the offers followed. He made a strong impression on Tennessee and Coach Larry Slade would soon have the same effect on the four-star prospect.

"I picked up the offer from Tennessee," Mackey told analyst Matt Alkire. "Coach Larry Slade and I spoke for a while and he's just a real cool guy who I am very comfortable talking to already. One thing he told me that I really liked about Tennessee is that they not only have a defensive line coach (Dan Brooks), but actually have a specific defensive ends coach (Steve Caldwell)."

Mackey also likes the SEC and Tennessee's track record for putting D-linemen in the League.

"The SEC is my favorite conference because it's full of the best talent and is all about speed and I like what I've heard about Tennessee so far," he said. "They put a lot of defensive linemen in the league like Shaun Ellis with the Jets and John Henderson with the Jaguars, so they'll probably be one of my five official visits because of those things and how comfortable I am with Coach Slade already."

As favorable as the picture appears for the Vols with Mackey, he's not likely to make a decision anytime soon. He plans to take all five of his official visits and with his offer total steadily increasing UT appears to have a battle on its hands.

"The program should be able to make me a success both on and off the field," he told Donald Forbes of State of "My goal is to play as a true freshmen. If it does not happen that is fine but I would like to get on the field as soon as possible."

With both of Tennessee's starting defensive ends (Xavier Mitchell and Antonio Reynolds) being seniors there is opportunity for early playing time on The Hill in 2008.

"Tennessee is my number one school right now," Mackey told Steve Williams of on June 2. "I really like coach Slade and the head coach called me on my cell phone last week. I like the fact that they have a specific coach for defensive ends and the SEC has always been my favorite conference. But I really like the chemistry I have with coach Slade. Right now, Tennessee, NC State and Pittsburgh are my top schools."

The Vols are on track to add a Big Mack attack to their defensive arsenal next fall.

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