Born and raised in Mississippi, Jeremy Mack Jr. had some mixed emotions last week as he packed his bags.
“It’s kind of bittersweet because I’m in Mississippi, so I’m going across the country and I’m leaving,” he said.
While Mack is venturing away from his home and his comfort zone, he was eager to get to Boulder and join the Colorado football team.
“Just being around the guys up there and working out and stuff, it feels like a new chapter,” he said a few days before flying to Colorado last weekend. “I’m really happy and I look forward to it.”
Mack is one of 19 newcomers set to join the Buffaloes this summer. A 6-foot, 190-pound safety, Mack graduated from Clinton (Miss.) High School in 2021 and played last season at East Mississippi Community College.
He earned first-team all-conference honors from the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference after posting 40 tackles, four interceptions, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Mack had planned to play a second season at EMCC until CU gave him a scholarship offer in late January. He committed to the Buffs and has spent the past four months preparing for the next step in his career.
“I’ve been working out, working on some footwork stuff and weight lifting, really,” he said. “Same stuff as when I was at East Mississippi.”
Mack was still at EMCC this spring to wrap up his academic year. He took advantage of that by working out with his former teammates while also preparing for CU remotely.
Mack got a jump on learning the terminology and playbook for CU’s defense and said he’s been able to increase his knowledge of the game this offseason.
“Really just learning football more,” he said of his main focus. “(CU safeties coach Brett) Maxie gave me the film and he gave me other stuff, so really it’s just been learning football — learning the game a lot more.”
Much of Mack’s offseason has also been spent building a relationship with Maxie.
“I like talking with coach Maxie because I like football and coach Maxie knows a lot about football,” Mack said. “That relationship right there is interesting to me, just picking coach Maxie’s brain and talking to him.”
At CU, Mack will join what should be an intriguing competition at safety.
Senior Isaiah Lewis is a returning starter, but the rest of the group is inexperienced.
True sophomore Trevor Woods played 139 snaps last season and could be a top candidate to start. Another true sophomore, Tyrin Taylor, also got some experience last year at corner, nickel and safety. Taylor could be the Buffs’ top nickel back this year.
The rest of the safeties on scholarship — junior Jaylen Striker, Mack, and true freshmen Dylan Dixson, Oakie Salave’a and Xavier Smith — have yet to play a snap on defense for the Buffs, so Mack knows there is an opportunity to play if he can have a good summer and August camp.
“That’s one of the reasons I also wanted to come here when they first started recruiting me, because I felt like I had a good chance of playing,” he said.
For now, his top priority is getting to know his teammates, acclimating to Boulder and settling in with the Buffs’ offseason program.
It’s a big change for Mack, but one he’s ready to embrace.
“I look forward to it,” he said. “I don’t know anybody … but I’ll get used to it. I’ll adapt.”
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