With his next season in question, Tunnel Hill native and Tennessee Titan Isaiah Mack is content to control what he can control.
Amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), most sports seasons are on hold and even the September start of the NFL season isn’t guaranteed.
Mack, a former Northwest Whitfield High School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga standout, is back in Whitfield County, preparing as if he’ll be suiting up at the end of the summer.
“I don’t think any athletes were prepared for as big of an impact it was going to make,” Mack said. “At the same time, you can either take it as a negative and complain or you can make it a positive. Either you’re going to get better or you’re going to complain.”
With social distancing guidelines brought on by the outbreak in place, the Titans are not meeting for workouts during the offseason break. Mack is in the same situation as most athletes right now: finding ways to complete workouts and stay active remotely.
“I’m just trying to stay in shape and stay focused, trying to do what I’ve always done. I try to treat it as much like if I was in Nashville as possible,” he said.
Mack gets up early each day to eat breakfast and work on his conditioning. He’ll weight train some days with a plan sent out by the Titans strength staff.
Mack said he tries not to think about the possibility of a delayed or even canceled season. He’s preparing and training.
“All our coaches just tell us ‘If you stay ready you never have to get ready,’” Mack said. “It’s a matter of letting the owners and the people that handle the business and safety side of football handle that, and we’ll be ready.”
Part of that preparation is continuing to meet with coaches and teammates through video conferencing.
“I got blessed with a funny group of guys and some unique personalities,” Mack said of the video calls.
Mack went undrafted out of UTC in 2019, but earned his way onto the Titans roster. He appeared in 13 games last season, tallying four tackles and 1.5 sacks as the Titans made a run to the AFC championship game.
“We were 2-4, and people had already counted us out,” Mack said. “For us, it wasn’t a surprise. We got to show the world what the Tennessee Titans were made of.”
His goal and what fuels him as he prepares for what hopefully will be his sophomore campaign this year, beyond contributing to even more team success: earning a starting spot.
“I want to be a starter,” Mack said. “If you’re in the NFL, you want to be a starter, you want to be an All-Pro. For me, I want to take it one step at a time, and that next step is to be a starter and be a guy that my coaches and teammates can rely on.”
“I think I’ve made Dalton proud, but there’s so much more I can do to make them more proud,” he said.