North Atlanta High senior honored by the National Football Foundation and Chick-fil-A Bowl

APS Director of Athletics Jeff Beggs was excited to share this press release with us:

The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF), in partnership with the Chick-fil-A Bowl, announced today that Marcus Mack, a senior linebacker from North Atlanta High School in Atlanta, Ga., has been named the Play It Smart Student-Athlete of the Month for February 2011.

(Check out Mack, at left, with Gregory Eason, at right, on National Signing Day in the video above.)

“It’s fitting that Marcus Mack is the winner for the month of February,” said Gary Stokan, president and CEO of the Chick-fil-A Bowl. “To honor his accomplishments during the same month he signed a letter of intent with the U.S. Naval Academy underscores the importance of our partnership with the National Football Foundation and Atlanta Public Schools.”

Mack, a senior linebacker and team captain for the Warriors, has developed an impressive resume during his career at North Atlanta High School. A volunteer with Hosea Feed the Hungry, Each One Reach One, and Help ATL, he also assists disabled students at North Atlanta. Despite his busy community schedule, he maintains a 3.6 grade point average in his school’s most challenging academic program, and this past fall he registered 77 total tackles on the field.

“Marcus Mack is the model for what a student-athlete should aspire to be,” said Danny Verdun-Wheeler, the academic coach at North Atlanta. “He is disciplined, hard working, responsible, and honest. Marcus displays all of those qualities on and off the field, and his work ethic will ensure that he’s a success in any of his future endeavors.”

Verdun-Wheeler speaks from experience. As a former four-year player at the University of Georgia, he played on the 2005 SEC championship and 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl teams. The former Bulldog graduated in 2008 and has been able to use his personal experience to assist his students in his role as academic coach at North Atlanta.

“Our team can relate to Coach Verdun-Wheeler because he’s been through the same things we are going through now,” said Mack. “He keeps me on task and I never miss a day without checking in with him as a part of the Play It Smart program. I hope that I can find similar support at the Naval Academy.”

One unexpected resource Mack will find at the Naval Academy is a fellow Play It Smart graduate from Atlanta Public Schools. Gregory Eason, an offensive lineman from Benjamin E. Mays High School and winner of the September student-athlete of the month award, also signed a letter of intent to attend the U.S. Naval Academy earlier this month. While the two never met prior to signing day, they share a common bond that will continue this fall as teammates in Annapolis.

“To see two young leaders from our program in Atlanta sign with the U.S. Naval Academy speaks volumes,” said NFF President & CEO Steven Hatchell. “It confirms that our partnership with the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Atlanta Public Schools is indeed working. It also serves as a strong example of the National Football Foundation fulfilling its mission to build leaders through football. We are very proud that these young men will represent our organization in the future.”

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