January 20, 2011

Mackey agonizing over final choices

The decision was hard enough the first time for Leon Mackey. It was tough again the second time around.

This time, with 18 hours of college credits in the midst of everything, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end is still struggling to figure out where he wants to attend college.

Although Mackey only needs 12 hours to graduate from Hinds Community College, he's taking the extra six to improve his GPA. His first week back has been busy because of all the work.

"I have a heavy class load. I've been real busy trying to get situated," Mackey said. "In the beginning they throw out all the work, and so I have all this work and then they calm down with it."

Mackey said he doesn't expect most of his classes to be hard, except for one potential hurdle.

"Not really (many hard classes). College algebra will be tough and a challenge, but I don't do anything but work out with the team and study and get tutored," Mackey said.

The college algebra class is the one required by the SEC of junior college players to pass to be admitted to one of the league's 12 schools. Mackey knows the importance of the class and how it relates to his future.

"That's a must, that's the one you need," Mackey said. "I feel like that's the one, the one that will make or break. I can pass everything, but if I don't pass that college algebra class it's over with."

The class load hasn't been the only thing on his mind the past few days. Coaches are continuing to check the status of Mackey and trying to get back in play and the amount of attention he's received has been overwhelming at times.

"Right when I came back from Mississippi State, it felt like the whole house came down on me," Mackey said. "It was a pretty good visit and then all the schools from the past wanted to see how everything's going."

It's not likely to stop anytime soon either. Mackey plans on announcing his decision on signing day. Mackey expects to host coaches from both Mississippi State and Tennessee tomorrow and said there's a lot going on in his mind when he starts trying to make up his mind.

"I like Tennessee and Mississippi State, and South Carolina is still in there. I just think a lot of stuff is weighing on my mind. I really don't know what it is. Anxiety I guess," Mackey said. "The last two times I've signed I didn't really know what school I wanted to go to until the day before. So, every day things change and pros and cons and things you're weighing, family, a lot of stuff.

"I wish I could say I was making this decision for me, but I'm making it for a lot of people because I have a lot of people that care for me."

Mackey recapped his visit to Mississippi State saying he enjoyed seeing friends, including basketball player Dee Bost and spending time with the head coach.

"It was cool, I like coach (Dan) Mullen. I like him from coming out and seeing and visiting my family," Mackey said. "Plus, I know people that go there and that's cool."

At the end of the day, though, Mackey said everything may come down to a gut feeling on what to do.

"It really is (a gut decision). I feel like at the end of the day it's just like taking a job. Wherever you go you're going to have to make the best out of the situation, but you've just got to think about the situation that you can make the best out of," Mackey said.

Rivals.com ranks Mackey as the No. 7 overall junior college player in the country.

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