PITTSBURGH — Taysir Mack might end up being one of more impactful players in Pitt’s Class of 2018, but he won’t be making an input in 2018.
Mack, a Brooklyn, New York native, is transferring to the Panthers after spending his first two collegiate seasons at Indiana. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he has to sit out the 2018 season and he’ll lose a season of eligibility in the process, which serves as a steep cost for Mack to make Pitt his new home.
It’s not as if Mack hadn’t had any success with the Hoosiers, either. In 2017, he had 23 catches for 310 yards (13.5 yards per catch) and added three touchdowns. More impressively, his best performances came towards the end of the season. In his last three games against Illinois, Rutgers and Purdue, Mack had 14 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown.
“I got some opportunities at Indiana that presented themselves,” Mack said. “I’m hugely appreciative of the opportunities. I felt like for me to better myself, this is a good situation for me.”
Mack’s film is impressive, from high school or at Indiana.
But now, any momentum gained from the end of his redshirt freshman season will get put on hiatus. Mack will be a redshirt junior when he gets back onto the field, with a year and a half of nothing but practices, weight training and film study on his current docket. He’s choosing to look at it as a positive opportunity.
“Bigger, faster, stronger, that’s just my motto,” Mack said. “I can take this opportunity just to learn, being able to learn defenses, being able to learn the offense, just working on my self, personally, academically and on the field. Just overall making myself feel more stable so that when it does come time to step on the field, I can dominate.”
Pitt hasn’t had a ton of transfers in Mack’s position and the results of those they’ve had have been a mixed bag. Tight end Chris Clark is expected to start next year after playing in a lot of two-tight end sets and filling in for an injured Matt Flanagan down the stretch in 2017. Dewayne Hendrix was hurt in his first game back after sitting out a year due to transferring from Tennessee and missed the whole rest of the 2016 season, but bounced back in 2017. Dontez Ford eventually worked his way into a starting role after transferring from Syracuse.
The path to productivity as a transfer is there, but it isn’t an easy one. Both Clark and Hendrix were injured during the year they had to sit out, either in practice or playing on the scout team. Then there’s the work of getting and staying in tune with quarterback Kenny Pickett.
It won’t be that easy, as Pickett will be spending most of his time focusing on the receivers that will be eligible to catch his passes in 2018. Mack and Pickett have already begun that work.
“The second day I got here, me and Kenny went to the indoor and ran routes,” Mack said. “He’s a good person. He has a strong arm. I like how hard he works.”