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David Quistberg

One of the few bright spots in Tulane’s otherwise rough seasonhas been the impressive play of junior linebacker TrentMackey.

As of last week, Mackey’s 115 tackles ranked third in the nation.On the season, he is averaging an outstanding 12.6 tackles pergame. He terrorized the Syracuse offense Oct. 8, recording aseason-high 18 tackles. Mackey credits an increased familiaritywith Tulane’s defensive philosophy as the source of his improvementthis year.

“Statistically, I am much improved from last year,” Mackey saidwhen asked to gauge his performance this season. “I have been doinga lot better in our scheme.”

Mackey was a three-star recruit coming out of Carencro, La., wherehe was a two-time All-State selection. Ranked as the No. 36 insidelinebacker in the nation by Rivals, he committed to Duke. Luckilyfor Tulane football, he transferred after his freshman year. Aftersitting out one year to satisfy NCAA football transfer regulations,Mackey immediately made an impact in the 2010 season, totaling 124total tackles and impressing teammates with his work ethic andleadership. This season, he has focused more on helping histeammates succeed.

“I’m trying to incorporate everyone into the defense and knowexactly what everyone’s doing on our side of the ball,” Mackeysaid. “I’m kind of like the quarterback; I just make sure I’mhelping some of the younger linebackers.”

At 5-foot-11 and 227 pounds, Mackey is a tank of a linebacker. Healso has plenty of speed, as he lettered in track in high school.It is his strength and nose for the football, however, thatelevates his game to the next level. He models his game after RayLewis and Troy Polamalu, two of the best defenders in the NFL.

“Their high motor and the fact that they are always after theball, those are the traits I admire most,” Mackey said.

Originally, Mackey said his team goal was to reach a bowl game.While that may not happen this season, Mackey is still in line fornumerous individual awards.

“Getting selected to first team All-Conference USA, hopefullyeven becoming an All-American – those are my goals for thisseason,” Mackey said.

Tulane is out of the bowl hunt, but don’t expect its star middlelinebacker to let up anytime soon. With him mentoring the rest ofthe linebackers, the Green Wave’s defense could do some seriousdamage next year. Opposing offenses have now been warned.