Better Know a Buckeye: Austin Mack

By Vico on April 29, 2016 at 10:10 am
Austin Mack during Ohio State's 2016 spring game.

Our "Better Know a Buckeye" series continues with its 12th installment. We profile Austin Mack, a wide receiver from Fort Wayne.

Austin Mack

  • Size: 6-2/210
  • Position: WR
  • (Hometown) School: Fort Wayne, IN (Bishop Luers)
  • 247 Composite: ★★★★
  • National Ranking: 76
  • Position Ranking: 10 (WR)
  • State Ranking: 2 (IN)
  • U.S. Army All-American

Austin Mack comes to Ohio State from the same high school program that produced former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith. Ohio State basketball fans may also remember it for matriculating Deshaun Thomas to Thad Matta's program.

Both Notre Dame and Ohio State competed for Mack's services, along with a host of other big programs like Alabama and Michigan. However, Mack gravitated to the Buckeyes during the 2014 season and even privately committed to the Buckeyes in the winter just after the 2014 regular season. He withheld a public announcement until a prominent camp in Indiana on June 7, 2015.

I retell his recruitment below and discuss the reasons he gave for his commitment. I provide a scouting report thereafter for a big-bodied wide receiver prospect who should command some immediate playing time. I close with a projection that Mack will play as true freshman and offer some highlight film for the reader to watch at the end of the profile.


Austin Mack received strong attention from FBS programs before he even played varsity for Bishop Luers. He made camp stops in the summer of 2013 at Cincinnati, Indiana, and Michigan State. The camps at Cincinnati and Indiana led to offers from both coaches. The Indiana offer was special for a prospect who grew up watching Indiana basketball and who sought mentorship from a former Indiana wide receiver (Dre Muhammad). Indiana took the lead in Mack's recruitment early in the fall of 2013. Mack visited Indiana twice, though added visits to Notre Dame to check out the Irish.

Mack had a great sophomore season in which he grabbed 57 passes for 805 yards. This led to a spring and summer recruiting cycle in which it was apparent Mack was one of the top rising juniors in the country. He expanded his recruitment to include the other marquee names in the Midwest. He visited Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State in the late spring of 2014. He liked what he saw from Ohio State enough to return in June for a one-day camp. 

Ohio State, in turn, liked what they saw in him enough to give him a scholarship offer three days later. The offer floored Mack and made Ohio State one of his favorites during the recruiting cycle.

The offer from Ohio State was just the start of a whirlwind summer for Mack. Successive visits to Michigan, Notre Dame, and Michigan State all led to scholarship offers from these Midwest powers. Michigan and, especially, Notre Dame would be the major challengers to Ohio State for Mack's verbal commitment.

Ohio State's coaches felt comfortable with their position vis-a-vis Mack notwithstanding the new offers from Michigan and Notre Dame. Wide receiver coach Zach Smith had forged a good relationship and open stream of communication with Mack. He even induced Mack to return to Ohio State for its Friday Night Lights camp. Mack used this stage to showcase that he was indeed one of the top junior prospects in the country and was a major attraction at that event. After the festivities were over, Mack reiterated that he enjoyed his time at Ohio State and enjoyed talking with Urban Meyer. He vowed to return for some visits and was in Columbus for the Kent State game that season.

Mack picked up more offers through his junior season, notably from Mississippi State and Northwestern. However, his recruitment always seemed to be a two-team race between Notre Dame and Ohio State. Mack's family is close with the Smith family, who sent one son (Rod) to Ohio State and another (Jaylon) to Notre Dame.

The two-team race between Notre Dame and Ohio State seemed to favor the Buckeyes as the winter progressed. Mack told a Notre Dame sports outlet that he thought Ohio State was his most exciting visit during the 2014 season. These confessions to a rival outlet are always telling signals.

Mack knew in January that he wanted to commit during an RAS Camp in June. This is a camp native to the Hoosier State. Mack also knew he wanted to commit in June at this camp while he was in Columbus for the national championship celebration. That visit left an impression on Mack. He got to witness the first playoff championship celebration and remark there were more people in attendance for a national championship celebration than some of his visits had for an actual football game.

Mack took visits through the spring of 2015. He even acquired a few more offers from programs like Alabama, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin, among others. However, crystal ball projections converged on Ohio State before that RAS Camp on June 7, 2015.

That camp had also scheduled Urban Meyer and Zach Smith to give a talk to those in attendance. The invitation was fortuitous even if Meyer and Smith were well aware of what choice Mack would announce live. 


Austin Mack committed to Ohio State at that RAS Camp on June 7, 2015 as the 12th member of Ohio State's 2016 recruiting class. Urban Meyer and Zach Smith got to be present for the commitment.

Mack elaborated his decision further in our community interview with him from last August. Notably, he had already committed to Ohio State privately last winter. He withheld the public announcement until the RAS Camp.

Ohio State was the first school that was really prestigious to have offered me. From the start it was more of a effort on my part to build the relationship with the coaches and once I proved myself in the eyes of coach Zach Smith and Urban Meyer, it was more about fun conversations and building the relationship. When I decided it was the right school? I silent committed in the winter last year. When I committed I was in Meyer's office with coach (Kerry) Coombs my family and my coach here in my city and when I said the words coach Meyer and Coombs jumped in the air and said "Boom!" 


Austin Mack is an intriguing wide receiver prospect and one who should contribute immediately for the Buckeyes.

I'm enamored with the way Mack runs after the catch. That's the first thing I noticed in his film. Mack's a threat to take a reception to the house largely because he's comfortable working through traffic and defenders when the ball is already in his hand. Bigger receivers tend to struggle with this, but not Mack.

Mack has a great combination of size and speed. He can overpower cornerbacks with his 6-foot-2 and 210-pound frame. He is also fast enough to run by them.

I also like how well Mack extends his hands for the catch. This is another area where "big" wide receivers typically lag behind their smaller counterparts. Mack will earn the trust of his quarterback for his ability to contest 50-50 balls.

Finally, Mack is a willing blocker at wide receiver. I've harped elsewhere how important this is, especially for an offense like the one Ohio State has.


Mack doesn't have the best route-running skills. Most wide receivers don't in high school since it's not much of a priority. He ran largely bubbles and nine routes from what I've seen. He'll need to extend his route tree to get serious playing time at Ohio State.

Mack should still thrive at Ohio State but it's hard to see him as anything other than an outside receiver.

I've remarked that he is better than your typical "big" wide receiver for how well he extends his hands. However, he does "body catch" as well. He will want to better high point the football as he matures at Ohio State.

Finally, Mack is not much of a red zone threat. At least, his film does not suggest that. He does get jump balls and does contest 50-50 balls, but rarely in the red zone from what I have seen.


Mack should play immediately. One source and long-time observer remarked that Mack enrolled in January with a clear "get out of my way" mentality. The last early enrollee to come to Ohio State with this attitude and work ethic, per our source, was Maurice Clarett. Mack had a senior season cut short to injury but he should be ready to play this fall.



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