Now-healthy Mack remains focused, hopeful as NFL Draft approaches

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

Jordan Mack, one of the stalwarts of Virginia’s defense for the past four years, spends his days awaiting the NFL Draft pretty much the same way as the rest of us.

He’s binge-watching Netflix — his recent favorite has been “Money Heist,” which he highly recommended — and watching movies to pass the time. With the draft rapidly approaching (April 23-25), the UVA linebacker checks in with his agent on a regular basis while communicating — via text and FaceTime conversations — with NFL scouts and player personnel officials to answer questions about his health or whatever might be on their minds.

He’s healthy again for the first time in a long time. Mack played with an ankle injury until he just couldn’t handle the pain any longer. It was debilitating. Most men wouldn’t have pushed it to the limit the way he did.

While he attended the NFL Combine, he wasn’t physically able to perform as he continued to rehab from his injury. Still, Mack believed the combine experience was beneficial to his shot at playing in the league.

“That was huge,” the former Cavalier said, “from the standpoint that [NFL teams] were able to verify my numbers, height, weight, and that they were able to speak to me and put a face to a name and see what kind of individual I was. Also, from the medical standpoint they could see that my ankle was healing properly.”

He was also able to meet NFL scouts and coaches and show them what type of individual they were dealing with, which had to be in his favor.

Mack, who drew praise from Bronco Mendenhall for his toughness throughout the season, finished as Virginia’s fourth-leading tackler with 69 stops over 13 games (he had to sit out the Orange Bowl because of the immense pain), 12 of which he started. Among those tackles, 8.5 were tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks to go along with 13 quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles, including a big one in the win over Virginia Tech.

He’s healthy again, explaining that he started feeling good again last month. Mack credits UVA’s sports-medicine team of doctors and athletic training staff for getting him back to 100 percent.

“They did a really good job of putting things together for me and still are to this day,” said Mack. “They send me stuff for rehab.”

Perhaps the first thing NFL teams ask is how he feels, if his ankle has healed. Virtual videos allow medical staff from those teams to recheck the condition of the injury, his flexibility, his strength.

“They’re seeing that I’m healthy, so everything’s been pretty positive,” Mack said.

Had the pandemic not caused the cancellation of Virginia’s “Pro Day” last week (April 8), Mack said he would have been able to participate.

“I’m pretty much all healthy right now,” Mack said. “I played for years and you just leave it all out there on the field. That’s what it’s all about. Your film speaks volumes and at the end of the day, that’s what you do … you play football.”

As much film as there is on Mack, he believes NFL clubs can easily see what he’s all about, how good his game has been, what a leader, what a physical, intelligent player he was.

He is back in Charlottesville and goes through a similar routine to his former teammates who are still in town, trying to creatively work out any way he can, anywhere he can.

Other than that, his life is about as routine as the rest of us, except we’re not hoping on getting drafted into the NFL next weekend.

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