Welcome to the National Football League, Isaiah.
A dream turned into reality late last week for Isaiah Mack, a former Northwest Whitfield High School defensive lineman, as he made the 53-man roster for the NFL's Tennessee Titans. From Whitfield County all the way to the top of the football world's mountain.
Mack, a 2014 Northwest graduate, will play his home games not too far from home. Nashville is about 170 miles from Tunnel Hill. And the Georgia native will have a homecoming of sorts when the Titans take on the Atlanta Falcons in the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Sept. 29.
After a standout career at Northwest where he was named the Daily Citizen-News All Area Player of the Year his senior season, Mack received scant scholarship offers. He signed to play at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. By the time his career wrapped up last fall he was third-all time in tackles for loss at the school with 41 and fourth all-time in sacks with 21. He was chosen as the 2018 Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Despite a productive college career — albeit at a lower level of competition — he was not selected in April's NFL draft. He signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent shortly after the draft. Undrafted players face longer odds to make the team, but Mack had an impressive preseason with the Titans.
That Mack went from high school to college to the NFL wasn't a surprise to Northwest football coach Josh Robinson, who watched Mack grow by leaps and bounds during his four years with the Bruins.
"The kid has always found a way," said Robinson, who has steadfastly been one of Mack's biggest cheerleaders. "I know people say that, but what he's got is an unbelievably special thing. I remember seeing him in middle school thinking that he couldn't play because he was this dumpy little kid. But, he was always around the ball and it's been like that forever. It took me about a half a practice to realize that he was going to start for us, of course not knowing that it would turn into what it is now."
We congratulate Mack for his laser-like focus and determination to beat the odds. Your story is truly an inspiration. But we would be remiss if we didn't also mention the legion of people who helped him along the way — family, friends, teachers, teammates, coaches, mentors, etc.
We, along with the rest of Whitfield County, are excited to see you play on Sundays. We wish you success and good health along the way. Good luck in your NFL debut on Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Cleveland Browns in Ohio (the game will be televised by CBS). Rest assured that Whitfield County is pulling for you.