May 5, 2012

The Evolution of DE, Jarrett Mackey

Jarrett Mackey's evolution into a team leader will be palpable on Sept. 22 when the Army and Wake Forest team captains meet for the pre-game coin flip.
 
Mackey, a 6-1, 240-pound defensive end whose teammates voted him Army's Legacy Captain following spring football, will trot out with Army's other designated team captains for the game to the center of BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, NC.
 
On the other side of the field will be Wake Forest senior wide receiver Terence Davis, Mackey's high school teammate at Snellville (Ga.) Brookwood. In those days, Davis served as Brookwood's team captain.
 
"Terence was our leader and he's a great guy," Mackey said.
 
Whether Davis, who played a backup role last season with 20 catches and five touchdowns, is a Wake Forest team captain for the Army game isn't the point. What matters for Army football is Mackey has grown into a team leader at a school charged with the mission of developing leaders.
 
"I try to lead by example," Mackey said. "I try to show guys that hard work pays off."
 
For the past year, Mackey's hard work could have been limited to the lonely rehab of a knee injury suffered in the 2011 season opener at Northern Illinois. But once he was mobile again from reconstructive surgery, he made it his purpose to remain engaged with the team.
 
"I didn't want to disappear into the shadows," Mackey said. "I did my rehab work and tried to help my teammates the best I could."
 
He joined film room sessions, got out the practice field and encouraged teammates in games from the sidelines. He wasn't cleared to run during spring drills, but he joined his teammates in some stationary drills.
 
"Jarrett is in that leadership role," Army head coach Rich Ellerson said. "He does a wonderful job with the team in the locker room and in the Corps. His recovery is right on track."
 
Mackey, who was making his 14th straight start in last year's season opener, feels good about his progress. Since he wasn't able to take part in spring drills, he is thus listed only as the co-starter with Zach Watts on the 2012 depth chart.
 
But he's been running full speed straight ahead and is about to add cuts to his running drills in mid-May.
 
"I've been running straight ahead to build up my leg strength up and I'll be back full strength soon," Mackey said. "Summer is looking good. I'll be ready for (fall camp in) August."
 
Mackey entered last season ticketed to fill the shoes of graduated Josh McNary, Army's all-time sack leader. He was coming off a sophomore year when he recorded 4.0 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss and was fourth on the team with 47 tackles, including seven against Notre Dame.
 
But he's not focused on his numbers for the 2012 season or trying to match McNary's senior year totals 10 sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss.
 
"We have goals, but we have them as a unit," Mackey said. "We want to have three or four sacks a game as a defensive line. With our defense, we all have jobs to do and sometimes you sacrifice yourself so someone else can make a play. Sometimes you make a take on a double team so the guy behind you can make the tackle."
 
With Mackey back on the field, Army is counting on a more physical defensive line improving its play against the run. The Black Knights were 100th in the nation last year, allowing 194.9 yards a game.
 
"We've got the people to make plays," Mackey said. "We've just got to do our jobs."
 
For Mackey, that new job description includes his leadership role.
 
"That was special for the guys to give me that award," Mackey said of being named the Legacy Captain.  "There are probably guys who deserved it more than me, but I'll do it to the best of my ability."

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