Last Updated: Fri Mar 03, 2023 - 2:25AM
There are numerous ways a football player can catch the attention of college coaches. Depending on the position, it can be a player’s ability to throw, catch, or run the football.
For Greensburg Central Catholic’s Amari Mack, it was dazzling kickoff returns early in his career that initially put him on collegiate coaches’ radars. From there, he continued to build his resume and now will become a Division I football player.
The senior all-conference cornerback recently made his commitment to continue his career at the University of Maine.
“Honestly, it feels great. It’s kind of relaxing,” said Mack about his decision. “I know there’s still work to do, but for now, I can relax a little bit and take a little breather.”
Mack was drawn to the Black Bears football program because of the relationship he formed with offensive line coach Patrick Kugler - a North Allegheny grad and the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler.
“We’ve been establishing a relationship the last couple years or so. He’s just been really, really supportive throughout this whole process. U of Maine really cared for me and supported me, and having them by my side since my sophomore year, it was good knowing that.”
Maine wasn’t the only school to inquire about Mack. The future Black Bear held offers from a variety of PSAC schools, as well as Ivy league schools and Youngstown State.
Mack hasn't always been a centerpiece of the football teams he played on. As a freshman at Jeannette, he rarely saw time on the field and in his sophomore season at GCC he suffered a season-ending injury.
Through the adversity, Mack has been able to stay focused on his goal of playing football at the next level.
“Honestly, it’s been up-and-down, like a rollercoaster type feeling,” he noted of what he’s overcome. “Now that I’ve officially signed, it’s been a great feeling.”
He's also battled adversity off the field alongside his teammates.
During the Centurions playoff week in 2021, the team suffered the loss of two assistant coaches. Joseph Oslosky, 44, and William “BJ” Farrell passed away within five days of each other.
“It was tough; I remember practicing and Coach Marko (Thomas) got a phone call and walked off the field,” Mack discussed of when he found out his assistant coach had passed away. “It was a rough week for us, even though they weren’t my position coaches, but you still felt that bond between our coaches that we were all solid.
“They were our coaches and they were well respected. It was tough; we obviously fell short in the playoffs, but I feel that we built ourselves on that and we had something to tie ourselves in more.”
Mack and the Centurions overcame an unthinkable tragedy by stringing together an 8-3 overall season in 2022. GCC went 6-0 in the Eastern Conference in Class 1A, but ultimately was upset by Rochester in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.
As Mack prepares for the next stage of his career, he’s appreciative of what he’s learned during his time at Greensburg Central Catholic. One skill he’s acquired during his high school career is betting on himself. He knows that he’s accomplished a lot by believing in himself, and he encourages other athletes to do the same if they want to see themselves succeed.
He’s also aware of the amount of work he will have to put in if he wants to see himself achieve similar goals in college. No matter what road block comes in the way of Mack, he’s ready to put his best foot forward and get to work on his craft.
“The competitive spirit of going to college is going to be good. There’s never an easy path, in my eyes. I always feel there is an aspect to grinding. There is someone out there that is better than you that you have to out grind.
“In college, I’m going to have to still pursue that grind, pursue that competitive spirit I have at the next level,” he continued. “I’m just looking forward to grind, to keep it short-and-sweet.”