Hoo Preview ’09: Mack Joins Fray

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UVa expects Torrey Mack to be part of the rotation this season.

Virginia’s lineage at running back has been a recurring success story for nearly two decades. Terry Kirby, Tiki Barber, Thomas Jones, Antoine Womack, Alvin Pearman, Wali Lundy, Jason Snelling and Cedric Peerman have all headlined the position at one time or another. Each shared one thing while wearing the orange and blue: impressive production.

With senior Mikell Simpson providing an experience and explosive option in 2009, another running back is stepping into the line of ancestry for his first year in the fray. Can Torrey Mack help continue the tradition in Charlottesville? If the 2008 recruiting gem can build on a dynamic high school career and an enticing blend of athleticism and instincts, he has a chance.

But first things first. Potential will only get you in the conversation. What’s encouraging for Hoo fans is that Mack is already starting to make the most of his opportunities, climbing toward the top of the depth chart as a viable option to get plenty of snaps in 2009. UVa coach Al Groh says Mack’s “speed and quickness” make him an attractive option for the spread offense being used this season.

“It’s likely that we’ll see quite a bit more muscle on Torrey before his next four years are over,” Groh said. “But he’s got vision and lateral quickness and burst that are on the pretty high end.”

Mack’s blend of speed and power helped post some elite numbers at Stratford High School in Connecticut. A 4-star recruit in the end, Mack recorded 1,177 yards and 20 touchdowns on 86 carries (13.7 yards per carry) as a senior. That followed a junior campaign with 1,689 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. Stratford coach Duane Shirden called it a “rare combination of power and speed” on the high school level.

Mack did much of his damage for Shirden in a power-based running attack, but he is enjoying