by Kristin Watkins
On the field, linebacker Jordan Mack makes his presence known whether it is getting a tackle, knocking down a pass or sacking the quarterback, but off the field he takes it down a few notches.
“I am very different on and off the field,” Mack said. “On the field, you have to be vocal and line things up, off the field you just go about your business, do your work with your daily schedule, do your homework, write your papers and don’t be flashy about it. I just go about my business day in and day out. So, it is not as flashy as on the field. I just handle what I have to do and come back to work the next day.”
To find that calmness and relaxation, Mack gets away from the hustle and bustle of a student-athlete’s life.
“Mentally I just take a break when I am not playing,” Mack said. “I put schoolwork down and just relax. I like to watch a good movie, talk with friends. But I really just take a mental break and go away.”
His rejuvenation can also come through quality time with teammates as they provide some laughter on occasion. 
“I love being one of the guys, cracking jokes and going about my business,” Mack said. “We go to movies. We all live near each other so we go over to each other’s apartments and just talk. We have a lot of talks on our team. You can get a nice little laugh anywhere with our team, just sitting on the coach telling stories and laugh.”
Often tasked with directing his teammates on the field, being more of a vocal leader didn’t always come easy for Mack. Through influences from veteran teammates and personal growth, Mack has developed into one of the most active leaders for the Cavaliers.
“I had to teach myself how to be more vocal, and also seeing people like Micah Kiser and Quinn Blanding being vocal and how their voices helped lead and better position the defense,” Mack said. “Seeing that and the necessity of having someone vocal is what taught me to do it.”
Mack has grown mentally and physically in his three years with the Virginia football team, but his love of football hits much closer to his youth. His father played football at Georgia Tech and brother played just down the road at Richmond.
“I have always been a football guy,” Mack said. “From the get-go, I have always been interested. Seeing my dad and brother play, I wanted to be out there and be a part of it. When I started playing I just took a liking to it.”
He can remember growing up in Lithonia, Ga., going outside to play with is dad and brother in the backyard.
“We played football all the time,” Mack said. “I remember me putting on the pads and my brother putting on the Franklin (youth) plastic pads and us going out there running around and tackling each other. My dad would toss us the ball. We would get a nice little chuckle out of it.”
As a kid, Mack would spend time watching some of his dad’s games for the Yellow Jackets.
“I have watched some of his old games,” Mack said. “I would get the VHS tapes and pop them into the VCR to see him catch the ball running down the sideline or watch him make a block and hear the announcers say his name on the program. You just think ‘That’s my dad, that’s pretty cool.'”
His dad, Charles, played fullback, but being on offense was never really of any interest for Mack. Instead he opted for the other side of the ball.
“I guess I went with defense because I like the idea hitting more than I like to get hit,” Mack said. “I like to inflict the hit on people so I have always had that tendency to hit people rather than run with the ball in my hands to score touchdowns.”
Living so close to Georgia Tech it was easy to get to some of the games, and Mack’s path could have been very different.
“I was actually a big fan of Georgia Tech growing up because my dad went there,” Mack said. “When we could go to games we went to games at Georgia Tech and cheered them on. I knew their players, got their autographs so I was a big fan of Georgia Tech.”
Luckily for the Cavaliers, Mack took a visit to Charlottesville and had an immediate connection with the university.
“I thought Georgia Tech was the place for me, but coming up here I just got a feeling that I didn’t get at GT,” Mack said. “The football family, the Grounds, I just saw myself being here. It is cliché to say, but I just saw myself being here more than I did there.”
Although Mack did not take after his father with his school, he keeps the life advice that he imparted on him as a kid.
“He gave me a lot of life advice, like whenever you start something don’t quit it,” Mack said. “Give it your best and your best is good enough. That is the message he has been preaching to me since then and all the way up until now. Whenever you can, control the controllables and whenever you do something to give it your all. Your best is all that is required.”
Mack has been giving his best each time he steps on the field for the Cavaliers both by his vocal leadership and his hard work, while still continuing to take his laid-back approach off the field.