December 30, 2013

Northwest Whitfield's Isaiah Mack shines, helps North win all-star game

Devin Golden

— Isaiah Mack wasn’t sure he’d do so well against some of the state’s best high school players.

He is “blessed” to be wrong.

Mack, a senior defensive tackle for Northwest Whitfield, was the lone player from Murray or Whitfield counties competing in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Football Classic on Monday at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium in Columbus. He emerged as one of the best players while helping the North to a 27-7 win, according to a report from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. It is the fourth straight win for the North in the annual series.

Reached by phone after Monday’s game, Mack called the experience of playing with some of the state’s best seniors “amazing” and added, “The South wasn’t ready.”

“When I said I’ve met superstars, I’ve truly met superstars,” Mack said, noting he practiced with and played against recruits who could head to Southeastern Conference programs.

“I feel blessed where I can say I’ve been to three all-star games and dominated in all three of them. I never thought I could do that against guys bigger and faster than me.”

Mack, who is 6-feet-1-inch and 240 pounds, also played in the D.L. Scott Coalition Bowl earlier this month in Atlanta and the Down Under Bowl in Australia this summer, where he earned MVP honors. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer said Mack tallied three tackles for loss and two sacks. Mack’s high school coach, Josh Robinson, said Mack made “13-15 tackles,” based on a phone conversation Robinson had with North coach Chip Walker, the head coach at Sandy Springs.

“He said Isaiah was probably the best defensive player on the field,” Robinson said.

Mack, The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Player of the Year in 2012, gave a non-binding verbal commitment on Dec. 18 to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC).

He made the all-area team again this season, received the Region 7-4A Defensive Player of the Year award the past two seasons and made the Georgia Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A all-state first team in 2013 after making the second team in 2012.

Mack finished this season with 121 tackles — 21 for a loss — along with 29 quarterback pressures, five forced fumbles and two sacks as the Bruins finished the regular season 9-2 and qualified for the state playoffs for the first time since 2009.

In 2012, he finished with more than 150 tackles and led Northwest to a 6-4 finish and one win from reaching the postseason.

Mack received major kudos from Walker, who believes Mack should receive offers from some big-name colleges in addition to UTC.

“He said if UTC gets me, that’s a huge steal,” Mack said, “because he wonders why I’m not going anywhere bigger.”

Cartersville quarterback Brooks Barden won offensive MVP honors while leading the North squad in Monday’s game.

Alcovy’s Curtiss Benton won defensive MVP honors from the South team.

This was the 13th edition of the all-star game.