Mile-high hopes: Northwest grad Mack aims to find an NFL home with Denver Broncos

AP photo

Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Isaiah Mack gets set to run a drill during training camp in August 2020.

Northwest Whitfield High School graduate Isaiah Mack has high hopes for his time in the Mile High City.

Mack, a Tunnel Hill native and former football standout for the Bruins, signed with the NFL's Denver Broncos last month. He's headed into his third season in the league, should he secure a roster spot.

"I'm excited to be here," Mack said of Denver. "It's a great place and I think it's going to be a great team."

Mack, who recently turned 25, starred at Northwest on the defensive line. During his junior year in 2012, Mack racked up 137 tackles (30 for loss) and eight sacks. The next season, Mack recorded 121 tackles. Both years, he was the region defensive player of the year and made the all-state team. Last year, Northwest retired Mack's No. 9 jersey during halftime of a varsity boys basketball game.

Mack, the 6-foot-1, 299-pound defensive tackle, played at Tennessee-Chattanooga after being lightly recruited out of high school, where he finished third in program history in tackles for loss with 41 and fourth in school history in sacks with 21. He was the 2018 Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Mack went undrafted in the 2019 NFL draft. He signed as a free agent with the Tennessee Titans in 2019, playing in 13 games as the Titans reached the AFC championship game, recording 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks, eight quarterback pressures and one fumble recovery.

Mack's playing time lessened in 2020, and he was waived last November after playing in six games for Tennessee. He quickly signed with the New England Patriots, where he played two more games before being released from the game roster and signing with the team's practice squad. Mack totaled three tackles in 2020.

The Broncos announced Mack's signing on Feb. 11.

Mack hopes to stick with his third team in his three NFL seasons.

"It seems like a promising thing," Mack said. "Things are going well so far this offseason. It's a very beautiful place and we've got some ballers on the defensive line."

Mack looks to become part of a group of Bronco defensive lineman and linebackers that doesn't lack for talent.

All-Pro Von Miller is set to return at outside linebacker after an ankle injury wiped out his 2020 season, and Bradley Chubb, a top-five pick in the 2018 draft, bookends with Miller at the other outside linebacker spot.

The Broncos re-signed veteran defensive end Shelby Harris earlier this month.

"Shelby Harris just signed for three years, Von's coming back for another year, and he's healthy, and Bradley Chubb is coming back," Mack said. "They're really great at what they do."

Ahead of next month's draft, the Broncos lack as many proven options on the interior of the defensive line, where Mack suits up.

With talented rushers on the outside garnering attention from opposing offensive lines, Mack hopes to find opportunities to make noise inside.

"It's going to be a great front seven, so I'm definitely looking to try to become a part of that," he said.

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