|Mack trucks in to lead NCCU|
|New coach eager to revitalize Eagles|
|Published Thursday, January 2, 2014 8:12 am|
DURHAM – When N.C. Central played Delta State in the 2006 NCAA Division II playoffs, Jerry Mack watched from the Delta State sideline at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
Mack was impressed by what he saw: a full stadium of rabid fans in an electric atmosphere.
“It knew then that it was a place I wouldn’t mind being a part of one day,” said the Jackson State alum. “I knew our paths would pass again.”
Seven years later, they have.
Mack was named the 22nd head football coach in NCCU’s history. The former South Alabama wide receivers coach was presented in front of students, alumni and staff at a press conference at the Student Union.
“We are beginning a new chapter on NCCU history by installing a new head football coach,” Chancellor Debra Saunders-White said. “We sought someone who would motivate success or what we like to call ‘Eagle Excellence.’ We found that motivator. We found that coach.”
At 33, Mack becomes the third youngest active Division I football head coach. Davidson coach Paul Nichols and Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck are younger.
Mack has made the rounds on the coaching circuit with stints at Delta State, JSU, Central Arkansas, Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Memphis and South Alabama. NCCU, however, is his first head-coaching job.
“I contacted several professional people and each talked about his readiness to become a head coach,” Athletics Director Ingrid Wicker-McCree said. “He articulated his vision for academic success for our football student-athletes and to improve our APR rates.”
Mack described his recruiting philosophy in three words: sacrifice, passion and vision.
“Sacrifice for the times the young men cannot stay up late at night and play PlayStation,” he continued. “They must have a passion to play football. And everything is done with a vision and purpose. I’m glad the (search) committee could see my vision through an Eagle eye.”
Mack signed a five-year deal worth $180,000 annually – $45,000 less than Frazier’s $225,000 salary.
The new coach hit the ground running with his first recruit. Former Ravenscroft High quarterback and New Mexico Military Institute transfer Quinn Billerman signed a national letter of intent.
In three seasons at Ravenscroft, Billerman became the Ravens’ all-time leading passer with 6,152 yards and 62 touchdown passes from 2009-11.
Billerman is coming off a record-breaking sophomore season at New Mexico Military Institute. He set new single-season standards with 2,962 passing yards and 34 passing touchdowns in 2013. The 6-3, 215-pound signal-caller completed 176 of 335 passes, averaged 246.8 passing yards per game and led the Broncos to an 8-4 overall record.
The honors keep rolling in for senior defensive tackle Shonquez Nelson, who was named to The Associated Press Little All-America Football second team. Nelson is the third player in school history to be selected.
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