December 2, 2012
Mackey wants strong finish to his unfulfilled season
Jarrett Mackey's comeback season from reconstructive knee surgery on the field didn't go the way the Army defensive end expected.
"He's been injured and dragging that leg around," Army coach Rich Ellerson said.
But while playing his intangible role as a Legacy Captain on and off the field, the 6-1, 235-pounder has been everything his teammates and coaches expected.
"He has that presence with the team and the Corps," Ellerson said.
Mackey is hoping this week he puts both his on-field and off-field contributions together when Army (2-9) meets Navy (7-4) in the 113th Army-Navy Game at 3 pm Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The showdown also is for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and a trip to the White House since Army and Navy both defeated Air Force earlier in the season.
"It took me longer to recover this year than I thought and the trainers thought," Mackey said. "But it's getting progressively better every week. I'll be ready for the Navy game and I think by January I'll be 100 percent. I'll get into the weight room to get going on next year and I should be ready to go."
It turns out there will be a next year for Mackey, who began the season listed as a senior. But early in the season the NCAA approved a medical redshirt season that turned Mackey's eligibility clock back to a junior. He will play next season as a senior and graduate in December 2013.
"It's double the fun," Mackey said with a big grin. "I'm happy and my parents were happy I got another season. I want to beat Navy this year and try to repeat next year."
Back-to-back wins over Navy is something Army hasn't accomplished since the 1990s when the Black Knights won five in a row from 1992 to 1996. Navy has currently won 10 straight to lead the series first played in 1890 by 56-49-7 margin.
Mackey may have an extra year to beat Navy, but that doesn't lessen the urgency to beat the Midshipmen this year so another class of seniors doesn't finish their careers without a victory over Annapolis.
"I've talked with old graduates who never beat Navy, and they say it stays with you the rest of your life," Mackey said. "It's one of the worst feelings you can have. This year we can not only beat these guys, but it's for the C-I-C."
Mackey, who was injured in the 2011 season opener and missed the entire year after a promising season in 2010, went home for a semester to recuperate from his surgery. He knew he'd be back to West Point in the fall of 2013 to graduate, he just didn't know his playing status until the NCAA sent word of approval.
Next year Mackey hopes to live up to his on-field potential with a healthy knee, but he's willing to keep or hand off the Legacy Captain role. The players name the Legacy Captain by a vote after spring football.
"It was an honor to be the Legacy Captain," Mackey said. "I work the sidelines and try to help get the team going in the direction we want to go. This season didn't go the way we wanted, but it's still my job to keep the guys motivated. I learned a lot about leadership this year and hopefully guys learned a lot from me.
"If the guys elect me again next year, I'll take it as an honor. But I'm going to tell them to elect another person and then I will do my best to help that person."
Mackey's promise for the 2012 season was based on the talent that was coming to the surface as a sophomore in 2010. He recorded 4.0 sacks, 6.5 tackles for a loss and was fourth on the team with 47 tackles.
His rehab from reconstructive surgery continued through spring football, but Mackey was expecting to close to 100 percent by fall camp and closer by the season opener. Instead, he wasn't cleared to play until the season's third game at Wake Forest. He's played in only seven games and started only two (at bandit instead of defensive end when senior starter and co-captian Nate Combs was injured), but he's still 12th in tackles with 21. The category where his limited playing time has been missed, though, is in tackles for a loss (1.5) and sacks (none).
He's happy for one more chance this year to do something about fulfilling preseason expectations.
"As soon as we beat Air Force this year, I started hearing from former players," Mackey said. "They were saying, 'Navy, Navy, Navy.' I said, 'Hey, we've still got two more games. We'll get to that.' Coach always tells us to focus on the next game. Now Navy is the next game. The Corps is excited and the old guys are excited and our teammates are excited. This game, and playing for the C-I-C, is an honor."
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