Durham News: Sports

June 2, 2014

Mack: ‘There has to be more to life than football.’

North Carolina Central football coach Jerry Mack wants more than just championship rings. He wants well-rounded, well-educated student-athletes.

North Carolina Central football coach Jerry Mack wants more than just championship rings. He wants well-rounded, well-educated student-athletes.

That was the message Mack recently gave at a Durham Sports Club luncheon.

Mack said NFL contracts are hard to come by at the Football Championship Subdivision level (formerly Division I-AA), so it is imperative that student-athletes place more emphasis on the student rather than the athlete.

“Let’s face it, we won’t have many players going to the NFL, so there has to be more to life than football,” he said. “I want to develop the entire student-athlete. I want them to leave with a championship ring and a degree in hand to become productive citizens.”

The Memphis, Tennessee, native was hired Dec. 19 and given his first head-coaching opportunity after 10 years as an assistant at various institutions.

At 33 years old, Mack is the third-youngest active Division I head coach.

He replaced interim head coach Dwayne Foster, who briefly replaced N.C. Central head coach Henry Frazier, who was fired for violating a domestic abuse protective order.

The Eagles job is high-pressure and high-profile, but Mack, so far, is batting a thousand.

“I have never had a bad job,” he said. “I learned a lot at Delta State. (Mack’s first job as a graduate assistant.) Delta State is where I developed my craft.”

• At Jackson State: “That community is what Durham could become. It is a great community. Young men grow up wanting to play at JSU. I want the same thing in Durham – high school athletes at Southern Durham, Hillside, Northern, Jordan – players that want to play for NCCU.”
• At Central Arkansas: “Central Arkansas got the most out of players. That’s why I say hard work beats top talent if the top talent doesn’t work hard.”
• At Arkansas Pine-Bluff: “This was my first opportunity as a (offensive) coordinator and where I grew as a coach. But I made some mistakes. I told God, ‘If you just let me be an offensive coordinator again or head coach, I won’t make the same mistakes.’ “
• At South Alabama: “Great staff. Mobile, Alabama, is the best city I’ve worked in. The kids played hard. We lost five games by two points or less, but we ended up winning our last four games. They never gave up.”

Mack’s offensive scheme will be simple: Get the ball to the playmakers, whether they’re on offense or defense.

“Everybody wants to specialize today,” he said. “I disagree. If I have a great defensive back with speed, I have no problem putting him in the backfield to run the ball. It’s all about getting the ball to those who can make the plays.”

And about getting the community on board.

In February, Mack and members of his staff created Valentine’s Day cards for cancer patients.

Mack will host a Women’s Football Clinic at the NCCU Law Building June 21 from 1 to 5 p.m. (Not that men couldn’t use a few pointers, too.) Seats are still open, so interested parties can contact Jashell Mitchell at 530-5431 or jmitch50@nccu.edu.

Movie debut

Marcus Joyner, a percussionist in the NCCU Sound Machine Marching Band, has won a role in the sequel to the 2002 hit movie, Drumline. Drumline: A New Beat will premiere in the fall and is being produced by VH1 and Fox Television Studios.

Big Night

N.C. Central basketball coach LeVelle Moton will be the keynote speaker tonight at the Durham Sports Club’s annual banquet and awards ceremony for local high school scholar-athetes.

Each local high school nominates one senior male and one senior female for the DSC scholarships, which total $3,000. The top male and female winners receive $1,000 scholarships named to honor Mildred Barnes and Harold Strawbridge, major contributors to the Durham Sports Club Scholarship Foundation.

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