Ryan Mack doesn’t mince words.
“Louisville,” the offensive lineman from Wooddale High School in Memphis said flatly when asked which school stands out among his suitors.
And what does he like about the Cardinals?
To start, the 6-foot-4, 317-pounder believes he can start — or at least play as a freshman.
He also likes the environment and education he can receive at Louisville.
Cardinal coaches also have convinced Mack that he will play offensive tackle in college, which is probably still up for debate among some college recruiters.
“Louisville said I will play tackle because I have the length of a 6-7 player,” said Mack, who is the News Sentinel’s ninth best prospect in the state.
Long arms give Mack the length that a tackle must have.
A strong junior season in 2009 has given him plenty of confidence. Two back-to-back performances last fall still stand out.
The first came in a win against Houston when Mack’s focus went far behind opposing defensive linemen.
“I was blocking linebackers 20 and 30 yards down the field,” Mack recalled.
A week later, Mack’s Wooddale team beat Ridgeway High School, which leaned on superstar defensive end Justin Maclin, who eventually signed with LSU in February as one of the top 2010 prospects in the southeast.
“Against Ridgeway, I went against an LSU commitment and I felt like I did really well against him,” Mack said.
So what did those performances do for Mack’s confidence?
“It boosted it real high,” he said.
That confidence is still present.
“I’m a good pass blocker and a good run blocker, but I’m still trying to work to get better,” he said. “I can get to the next level — to the linebacker and the safety. That’s real easy.”
The performance against Maclin also gave Mack some fantastic highlights to send to recruiters. That has resulted in scholarship offers from Louisville, Kentucky, Memphis, Southern Miss, Arkansas State and UT-Martin.
Mack is also hearing from several other schools, including Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and West Virginia.
An offer from the in-state Vols isn’t a certainty, but if it comes along, Mack would welcome it.
“It’s a good school,” said Mack, who will visit UT for the Vols’ next football camp in mid-July. “They’ve got a new coach (Derek Dooley) and I’m looking for some good things going on.”