Texas football flips impact 4-Star CB Wardell Mack from Florida

Corey Raymond. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]Ncaa Football Florida Gators Spring Football Practice
Corey Raymond. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]Ncaa Football Florida Gators Spring Football Practice /

Texas football got big news on the recruiting trail in the 2024 class to cap this weekend by flipping the commitment of the highly touted four-star Marrero (LA) John Ehret cornerback Wardell Mack from the Florida Gators. The news came via a post on social media from On3’s Hayes Fawcett on the evening of Nov. 12.

Texas was one of many Power Five schools still pursuing Mack on the recruiting trail this fall, despite his commitment to CB coach Corey Raymond, head coach Billy Napier, and the Gators late in the summer. Some of the other schools that were still involved in Mack’s recruitment this fall were the LSU Tigers and Florida State Seminoles.

Mack liked what he saw from Texas during his two visits to Austin during the offseason, including for an official trip in June.

Texas football pulls off a huge flip with former 4-Star Florida CB pledge Wardell Mack this weekend

This was great work on the trail for head coach Steve Sarkisian, cornerbacks coach Terry Joseph, and the Longhorns to stick around in this recruitment for the last few months. Texas got a highly rated commitment at a position of need at defensive back roughly one month before signing day on Dec. 20.

The timing of this move for Mack to flip from Florida to Texas was a bit abrupt. Roughly 24 hours before flipping to Texas, Mack was on a gameday visit to Tallahassee to see Florida State beat the in-state ACC foe Miami Hurricanes on Nov. 11.

Mack sees an opportunity for early playing time at Texas

Among the big selling points for the Longhorns in this recruitment was the potential for Mack to make an early impact at Texas. He told Inside Texas a few days ago that he believes he can boost the Longhorns’ secondary after seeing some of the ups and downs from the defensive backfield in the loss to the Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Rivalry game on Oct. 7.

While Texas does have a good group of young defensive backs on campus and potentially on the way to the 40 via the 2024 recruiting class, Mack could have a shot at early playing time if he proves himself right away next offseason.

With Texas potentially set to lose redshirt junior boundary corner Ryan Watts and senior nickelback Jahdae Barron to the NFL Draft in 2024, there are a couple of spots that could open up at DB next fall.

Texas getting a fluid playmaker at CB with Mack flipping from Florida

What Texas is getting from the 6-foot-0.5 and 170-pound corner from Louisiana is a polished defensive back prospect with fluid movement and good length. He stands at nearly 6-foot-1 with a wingspan that nearly reaches 34 inches. That is great length regarding wingspan at the cornerback position.

Mack is such an impact-ready corner once he transitions to the collegiate level next year because of his quick hips, physicality, and stickiness in pass coverage. He can use his quick hips and fluid stride to adjust to multiple different route concepts in pass coverage. And he has the quickness and physicality to effectively re-route receivers when necessary when he’s in coverage.

Mack has shown the ability to play in multiple different types of coverage schemes. His length and physicality make him a natural in press man coverage. But he can also excel in nickel coverage packages and off the receiver in zone coverage, thanks to his speed and quickness.

Mack is a good tackler who does well in space

The physical nature of Mack’s game shows up when he has to contest space and bring down the ball carrier. He’s a good fundamental tackler who can put real pop in the pads when he meets the ball carrier in the open field.

Mack can also play downhill and bring some physicality in run defense from the nickel or corner position. He is unafraid of the contact that playing downhill around the line of scrimmage brings in run defense.

Areas of improvement

Since Mack is profiled as a potential immediate contributor at the collegiate level, there aren’t any glaring weaknesses in his game. But the things he can still improve upon to get closer to his ceiling at the next level are ball skills and timing of contact in the secondary.

Mack has decent hands, but not fantastic. And he can time his breaks on the football a little bit better to really turn into the high-level playmaker he is capable of becoming, given his length, quickness, and fluidity as an athlete.

Projection and fit at Texas

We’ve mentioned it multiple times already, but Mack profiles as a prospect who can earn some early live-game snaps at Texas as a true freshman. He’s polished enough to challenge for early reps at potentially either corner spot or at nickel.

Nickelback could be a natural fit for Mack since he’s got the physicality and stickiness in man coverage you need to excel covering the slot on defense. The opportunity for early playing time at the star position will also be there next season for the Longhorns, with the likelihood that Barron heads to the NFL Draft in 2024.

Texas is building a deep and talented defensive backfield upon the transition from the Big 12 to the SEC next year. Mack brings the Longhorns to three blue-chip defensive back commits in the 2024 class this fall, including four-star cornerback Santana Wilson and four-star safety Jordon Johnson-Rubell.

If you also include four-star Daingerfield (TX) athlete Aeryn Hampton, who can also play defensive back in the 2024 class, Texas has four blue-chip DBs in the mix.

Texas is also still a favorite to land the elite five-star Waco (TX) Connally cornerback Kobe Black when he’s ready to announce his commitment before signing day on Dec. 20.

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