Filed as web feature . . .
Khalil Mack took the culture shock in stride Friday at his first visit to the Raiders’ facility.
At age 23 and joined by his parents for an introductory press conference, the Buffalo linebacker had plenty of support and was still getting his bearings after going No. 5 in the NFL draft Thursday to the Raiders.
It was Mack’s first trip to California _ he’d never been farther West than Texas _ but it didn’t approach his move five years earlier from Fort Pierce, Fla., to Buffalo, N.Y.
“I think it was October and it was 50 degrees and I saw people walking around in shorts and tank tops and I was confused,’’ Mack said. “I had on the thickest jacket I could have and everyone was looking at me like I was crazy.
“It was a transition, but I got used to it. After I awhile I was walking around in tank tops and shorts in 50 degree weather. Now I’m on the West Coast.’’
After a redshirt season, Mack set NCAA records for forced fumbles (16) and tackles for losses (78) to go along with a school-record 28.5 sacks. One of the appeals for general manager Reggie McKenzie was Mack’s experience level during a time when so many players are leaving after their junior year.
Mack exuded conference and resolve Friday in an approximately 15-minute session with the media.
“Coming to the professional level, guys are going to be just as talented if not more talented than I am,’’ Mack said. “There are certain things you have to do to make sure you play fundamentally sound, use the right technique, and do it right every time.’’
He said he considered coming out after his junior year, but was talked out of it by his mother Yolanda, who was sitting in an auditorium seat proudly wearing a Raiders cap. Mack said he wanted to be a top tier prospect and realized he needed to be a force in the Mid-American conference.
“I knew I had to go out and show my dominance as a man and now that I’m talking to you I feel that I’ve done that, and now it’s over and I have to go out and do it again,’’ Mack said.
McKenzie said he expected Mack to have some special teams responsibilities but would leave his use on defense to the coaches. Mack, when asked about what uniform number he would wear, said he was thinking about “52 . . . if that’s not too soon.’’
Said McKenzie: “It can’t come soon enough.’’
Mack said his sideline-to-sideline zeal and competitive nature comes from his father.
“He’s a prideful and competitive guy and he doesn’t like to lose and I don’t like to lose so you’ll rarely see me get beat up in any sense of the game because I don’t like to lose,’’ Mack said. “If I get beat once, you won’t beat me again.’’
Sandy Mack said Khail was given no breaks just because he was the youngest.
“I taught my boys to be competitive,’’ Sandy Mack said. “We like to win. We didn’t have no pity in our house. I’ve got three boys, and we were kind of rough around the edges. The only girl in the house was mom.’’
Mack’s interview with the Raiders at the NFL scouting combine got off to a rocky start when he mentioned the club’s one-sided loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs in the Super Bowl. He was also confused when talking to McKenzie, believing the general manager had been personally scouting his practices at Buffalo.
The Raiders regional scout in the northwest, Raleigh McKenzie, is Reggie’s twin brother. The Raiders bring Mack in for a pre-draft visit to the facility, so he wasn’t sure what to think.
“I thought, `I didn’t get an invite or nothing?,’ ‘’ Mack said. “It just shows you how this process is, and I’m glad to be here.’’