Gladewater’s Daylon Mack Makes It Official By Signing With Texas A&M
GLADEWATER -- For more than a year, it seemed there'd be little drama leading up to National Signing Day for Gladewater defensive tackle Daylon Mack.
But then came Dec. 19, when the five-star prospect re-opened his recruitment after 14 months as a Texas A&M commit. Two new suitors -- Texas and TCU -- entered the picture, fueling the flames of thousands of fans on recruiting message boards throughout the state.
But late Wednesday morning, in front of a gym full of students and live ESPNU cameras, Mack ended the process where it began by signing with the Aggies.
"(Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin) told me 'we've had good times and bad times,'" Mack said. "He never blew up at me, he never got mad at me. He stuck it out with me and I'm sticking it out with them."
And while many on recruiting web sites and in the media speculated on the chances of Mack signing elsewhere, the Gladewater interior lineman said he knew A&M was the place for him long before it became official Wednesday.
"I had silently committed back to A&M on my official visit (on Jan. 16)," he said. "Nobody knew that."
When Mack de-committed from the Aggies in December, A&M was without a defensive coordinator after the school cut ties with Mark Snyder following a season in which the Aggies' defense ranked 103rd in the nation.
Texas A&M then hired LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, a coach notorious for developing college players and turning them into NFL draft picks.
"It was huge," Mack said of the Chavis hire. "At one point, I felt like I was going to go to LSU. And for them to make a move like that, those are things that you can't ignore."
Another positive under the A&M column was its status a member of college football's premier conference, the SEC.
"That was a huge factor, it's been a huge factor for a lot of the Texas kids," Mack said. "They don't have to go to these out-of-state schools -- LSU, Alabama -- you can play good football in your home state."
Aside from building relationships with college coaches, forming friendships with similarly-positioned recruits, played a role as well, Mack said. But it's not always the determining factor.
"We all had a talk about that, and we just had to do what's best for each other," he said. "We understand that we wanted to play together, but in the end, it's about doing what's best for you."
Two of Mack's closest friends on the recruiting landscape -- Cedar HIll receiver DaMarkus Lodge and Mesquite Poteet linebacker Malik Jefferson -- opted to sign with Ole MIss and Texas, respectively.
"I know I'll get a chance to play against Lodge," Mack said. "Hopefully that rivalry with Texas will get renewed so I can play against Malik."
Daylon's parents, Coris and Geraci Mack, were both in attendance and asked to weigh on the recruiting process.
"I don't care to do this again," Daylon's mother, Geraci, said with a smile.
Coris Mack added: "I'm just proud of him and I'm glad he's doing what's best for him. It's been a long, three-year process. That's probably the most trying part of all it. You build all these relationships with all these great coaches, legendary coaches."
No matter how Daylon Mack's college career unfolds, his legacy in Gladewater is secure. After failing to win a playoff game from 2002-2012, Mack had a hand in helping the Bears achieve five postseason victories in his final two seasons in high school.
In his three-year career at Gladewater, Mack amassed 247 tackles (86 for loss), 16 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, and 11 recoveries.
Mack was the Texas Sports Writers Association Defensive Player of the Year for Class 4A, was named an MVP in the Under Armour All-America Game last month, and was voted the ETSN.fm East Texas Football Super Team Defensive Player of the Year following his senior campaign.
"I know I'm going to miss it," Mack said of his time at Gladewater. "I think about it every time I walk off the football field, I think about it every time I walk off the practice field, and every time I see the coaches. I did a lot of special things here, and I had a lot of special people doing it with me. So, I'll never forget about that."
Mack is one of five East Texans that signed with Texas A&M on Wednesday, joining Whitehouse safety Justin Dunning, Newton defensive back Roney Elam, Lufkin offensive lineman Erik McCoy, and Sulphur Springs safety Larry Pryor.
The Aggies signed three players from the region a season ago -- Gilmer linebacker Josh Walker, Longview defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson, and Lufkin receiver Jamal Jeffery -- and have several more East Texans natives on the roster.
Mack said it was his relationship with Sumlin and the Aggies coaching staff that tipped the scales in A&M's favor.
"In the end, that was the deciding factor because all three were great schools," he said. "But relationships, and like I said, Coach Sumlin stuck it out with me no matter what. I know he'll always be there for me if I need anything."