WR recruit Austin Mack ready for another look at Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

In less than three months, Austin Mack plans to have a big decision made.

The four-star wide receiver prospect has already visited most of the schools he’s considering heavily. Another travel-intensive spring is already underway.

“My schedule's really booked, so I'll be around a lot of places,” Mack said.

A visit to South Carolina is first up this weekend. Mack will spend the following weekend at Notre Dame for a football recruiting function, junior day. Trips to Ohio State, Michigan State and Tennessee will come in April.

The Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers High product has been a frequent visitor at many Midwest schools in the past year. A friendship with Irish linebacker and fellow Luers product Jaylon Smith and a genuine interest in the program put Notre Dame on his travel schedule plenty of times. He attended two Irish home games last season — the wins over Michigan and Stanford.

Mack said he doesn’t have much left to learn about Notre Dame but hopes another visit can help him visualize how attending the school could benefit him. He continues to develop relationships with ND recruiting coordinator Mike Elston and wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock.

“I want to get back, so I can really see how I fit into their system and how Notre Dame can really be the school for me,” Mack said.

The only school to host Mack more frequently has been Ohio State, which many believe to be the favorite to land Mack when he announces a commitment on June 7. Mack pushed back when pressed with the notion that the Buckeyes are his leaders. His repeated visits were a product of aggressive recruiting by the Ohio State staff.

Some schools, Mack said, communicated with him less at the end of the 2014 season and and the 2015 recruiting cycle. The Buckeyes never backed off.

“Ohio State has recruited me the hardest,” Mack said. “They've been there even before signing day. They're really close to me, so it's easy to get there. I know a couple of people on the team. Being able to see a team that won the national championship was really good. That's history. As a fan of football, I love to be around that and love to be around winning.”

Plenty of schools want Mack to be around their program. His offer list surpassed 20 schools after a strong junior season. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Mack caught 69 passes for 1,062 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also tacked on four rushing touchdowns.

Now he and his friend Auston Robertson, a four-star defensive end at Fort Wayne's Wayne High School, are in a battle to be the best 2016 recruit not only in Fort Wayne but in the entire state. Rivals gives the advantage to Mack, with Robertson at No. 2. 247Sports has Robertson ahead of Mack.

247Sports slates Mack as the No. 22 wide receiver in the country and No. 135 regardless of position. Rivals ranks him No. 38 at wide receiver and No. 192 overall.

Both Mack and Robertson work out with the Athletes With Purpose training group that has a number of Notre Dame ties. Smith and Irish safety Drue Tranquill trained at AWP. Former Irish players Tyler Eifert, John Goodman and Tony Springmann have all worked with the same group.

Mack and Robertson, both scheduled to visit Notre Dame next weekend, plan to announce their commitments at the Redefining Athletic Standards football camp this summer — the same camp where Jaylon Smith shared his Notre Dame commitment in 2012.

Mack’s recruitment appears to be shaping up to be a Notre Dame and Ohio State race, but he remains wide open with other schools. With a tough decision on the horizon, Mack is trying to stay focused on improving as a football player. He’s chasing a standard set by Eifert and Smith.

“My size, speed and route-running made me more of an overall elite player,” Mack said. “I want to be a monster on the field and be able to take over."

Below are Mack's junior highlights via Hudl.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Four-star wide receiver Austin Mack will visit Notre Dame on March 21. (Photo courtesy of The News-Sentinel/Joseph Harrison)