Meet Clay Mack, The Defensive Back Guru

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Photo via Clay Mack

 

Everything Clay Mack does is fast. From the way he talks, rapidly firing out words while advancing the conversation, to the way his defensive backs move, most notably Jamal Adams, who he just visited at LSU’s Pro Day.

Mack has trained a laundry list of defenders, from pros like Jalen Mills and JaCory Sheppard, to the collegians like Marshon Lattimore and Jalen Jones, to top tier high school recruits who just signed like Anthony Hines and Jeffery Okudah. Trying to remember every single defensive back trained by Mack is an exercise in futility, the names just keep coming and coming until your brain is overwhelmed. It wasn’t always this way, though. At one time, Clay Mack hoped to be drafted himself.

Mack is himself a graduate of Dallas Kimball, and a high school All-American. He went D1 at Mississippi State and had a great career with pro aspirations until he tore his groin off the bone during his senior campaign. Mack took a job in corporate America, and for the time being, was away from the sport he loved.

One day, Mack’s old coach at Kimball gave him a call, and asked him to look at some defensive backs on the roster that he could use some extra help looking at. Mack quickly accepted the offer, and made the trek up to practice after he got off work. He originally planned to stay for only 30-45 minutes, but naturally ended up staying the entire practice. It didn’t take long for Mack to recognize that he needed to be around the sport again. Over time, he began helping out more and more with the technical side of tutoring defensive backs, and that eventually evolved into him quitting his job to go into training full-time.

“You have to always stay turned on. You can turn down, but you can never turn off.” – Clay Mack

Clay started out training some of the inner city guys, the ones closest to Kimball. David Robinson and Mack started out with a measly three kids, two wide receivers and one defensive back, but they poured their heart and soul into them. Within six weeks, what they were doing caught fire. In a month and a half, the duo were training 110 youngsters from the Dallas area. From the beginning, whatever Mack and Robinson were selling, those kids were buying into completely. All-District players blossomed into All-Region, All Region players blossomed into All-State players.

What Mack and Robinson had found was real. In the reality of the college football world, coaches only have so much time, and during the season, the time to develop individual skills can take a backseat to gameplanning, special teams, and other holistic team-based strategy. At the most, for every practice, players had 20 minutes to work on their individual skills. Mack and Robinson had a full two hours.

Mack thinks that Jamal Adams will likely end up being the most famous athlete that he’s trained. Adams is a top NFL prospect, projected to go in the top 5, and most importantly for his stock, has passed every single metric for character and love of the game that the NFL has. Seriously, NFL.com called him a “natural leader of men”, which is not something NFL scouts take lightly in a age where there are more distractions and money in football than ever.

There is no hierarchy though. There are no favorites in the world of Clay Mack. There are defensive backs, there are things that they’re good at, and there are areas that they can improve in. It’s a source of pride for Mack, he can talk nearly all day about the guys he has personal relationships with. He truly plays no favorites, the only aim at his training sessions is improving.

“If we do enough drills, somebody is going to have a problem with something.” – Clay Mack

Mack has a coherent plan for the Dallas area – divide the city up. He works from two locations, Midlothian and Carrolton in order to divide up the city. When Mack is duoed up with Robinson, the camps are called “Quick Twitch”, when he’s solo, it’s just “Clay Mack Skills”, and both of the names seem strikingly accurate.

In the future, he’s got some very influential players lining up to hear his wisdom. Anthony Cook and Verone McKinley III are a part of his camps, and they’re both represented in ESPN’s top 300 recruits in the nation. Cook in particular has been heralded as the best defensive back in his recruiting class.

Mack doesn’t just train the tangibles, which is what makes him what he is. He also trains the attitude, the moxie, the swagger of the individual defensive back. Where you’re out there on an island, confidence can be everything, and Mack will quickly build the drive in the individual to be a successful player, with the skills and attitude that make the drive count.

All in all, Clay Mack is a mentality. You can’t turn off around him, he’ll notice it immediately. No rep goes unnoticed, no bad twitch of the hips or pursuit angle will go unseen. It’s the mentality that makes him an elite level trainer, and it’s the mentality that makes his players what they are, which is top level at whatever they do.

 

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