by Ben Trent
Jordan Mack has been a name Virginia fans have been hearing since The Mendenhall Era first began back in 2016. Then, playing as a true freshman outside-linebacker, he recorded 40 tackles on the season. Now, three years later at inside-linebacker, Mack has been an anchor for the Cavaliers’ defense.
The legacy Mack has been building does not end between the lines on the field. In the Spring of 2019 – while the team was in its peak of off-season training – Mack swapped his workout duds for khakis and a polo and headed off to the Virginia Athletic Foundation. There, he worked with Molly Mathews (director of marketing and communication) and got an inside peak into the world of business and the life-blood of UVA Athletics.
“I worked on projects such as The Master Plan and Giving to Hoos Day,” Mack said. “Researching different alumni student-athletes to see who would be willing to participate. For the Master Plan, it was just about coming up with a project that I could present to donors, to present a better picture of what is needed for Virginia athletics moving forward based on our competition in the college-athletic world.”
Mack embodies one of UVA Football’s foundational expressions: AND, the belief that players can (and should) distinguish themselves in football and other pursuits simultaneously. His experiences with the VAF have given him a different perspective on college football and sports overall.
“Honestly it just gave me a whole different view point of the small things that are needed and the background things that are handled so that as an athlete and as a coach and in each department they don’t have to worry about ‘where’s this coming from’, ‘how’s this going to get done’ or ‘how are we going to get things done’, Mack said. “It definitely just gives you a different viewpoint of the teamwork and the background and everything that’s needed in order to make Saturday’s possible.”
If Mack has learned anything in Bronco Mendenhall’s program, it’s teamwork. That sense of teamwork that has placed Mack into a leadership position.
Along with fourth-year corner Bryce Hall, and fifth-year quarterback Bryce Perkins, Mack is one of the team’s captains. A position, it seems, that Mack had been groomed for his whole life by his father – former Georgia Tech running back Charles Mack (1983-87). His father, his experienced voice, gave Mack an edge as he began his football career.
“It’s just given me a different perspective, knowing what to expect when I came into college and just this role that I took when I decided that I wanted to play football,” Mack said. “Giving me different voices, an experienced voice that I could listen to.”
That edge has undoubtedly played a role in Mack’s rise to leadership on the team,
“It’s given me different voices and different opinions, different experiences – it’s honestly just allowing me to take on that role in the way that I’ve been prepared for throughout the years – from my freshman year, from my parents, from my dad,” Mack said. “It’s an accumulation of all that.”
The experiences for Mack seem to be piling up as his collegiate career nears its end in 2019. One experience stands out from the rest. An experience that few ever are able to claim.
In fall of Mack’s freshman year, as UVA prepared for its first opponent – the Richmond Spiders – Mack was preparing for a more personal battle. His brother, Charles, was a senior on Richmond’s defensive back field.
“It was fun,” Mack said. “It was a new experience, but also having your brother out there, it was definitely fun and just rekindled a little sibling rivalry.”
A sibling rivalry, as for many other collegiate athletes, that aided Mack in his competitive tone on and off the field.
“It was a lot of competition whether it was video games or just outside on the street playing football, basketball, anything,” Mack said. “There was a lot of competition between us and that just carried over into the first game when we played each other.”
Now, with Mack in his senior season, he will not line up against his brother again. However, their football relationship has not yet come to an end. This year, Charles recently joined UVA football’s recruiting team. He is present at every practice, watching as his brother acts and plays with fierce competition and leadership style forged in childhood.
“It’s a blessing,” Mack said. “To have someone I can go to after a hard day or just talk to when I need someone to talk to.”
Fourth-year captain Mack has stacked an impressive amount of experiences through his tenure at UVA. He has become a shining example of a UVA student-athletes, leaving his mark on, and off the fields – a legacy that will echo in Charlottesville for years to come.