For most veteran players, OTA’s (Organized Team Activity) are another day at the office. To Hofstra undrafted OL Shawn McMackin, it’s a chance. McMackin went undrafted this past April and is quietly becoming a solid offensive lineman. But then again, nobody’s perfect.
“I’ve been pretty solid to date but today I was all over the place,” the New Jersey native and Hofstra Alum said last Wednesday. “I had a few bad snaps today and I’ve got to work my behind off to stay here so that’s where I’m at.
During his college career at Hofstra, McMackin played predominately at the tackle and guard positions. Right now, the Jets have McMackin at center during OTA’s working with all the quarterbacks.
“It’s a dream come true,” McMackin said coming off the practice field after OTA’s Wednesday. “I’ve worked hard to get here and I’m going to continue to do that so that I’ll be able to stick around here for a while.”
The Jets already have a starting center in Nick Mangold, so the switch has McMackin wondering what plans the Jets have for him right now. Hopefully it’s for depth as the Jets did not re-sign their backup center from last season, Wade Smith. A6 6’3”- 287 Lbs, McMackin is a bit undersized and will surely be in the gym trying to bulk up.
“The transition of positions was the “welcome to the NFL” moment for me,” McMackin said. “When I first came here they moved me inside at the guard positions and now they’ve slotted me into center, but I’m not sure if it’s the right time for me to learn on the run but that’s what I’m doing.”
According to Coach Eric Mangini, it’s essential for a center to grasp the offense and its schemes quickly.
“The center is like the quarterback of the offensive line,” Mangini said. “He has to work with the line in protections and what not and he’s shown that he has some ability to do that as of right now. He’s never played center before and he’s doing an exceptional job.”
McMackin’s journey from rookie minicamp invitee and OTA’s to full team minicamp standout is not as typical as one may think. He was almost a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. McMackin was on vacation in Mexico when Tampa Bay called him and said that they had him booked on a flight out of Newark, NJ at 9:00 p.m.
“I was kind of surprised because I never scheduled anything and I said to them that I was in Mexico,” he said. “The person on the phone was like “oh” and then said “take care.”
McMackin is still suspicious as to what went on in Tampa.
“I don’t know how legit [serious] the Tampa thing was in the interest aspect,” McMackin said. “The Bucs and Jets both called me but after the draft, San Francisco was the first team to actually take serious interest in me. Tampa never called me back.”
That Tuesday morning after the draft, he was going to fly to San Francisco for a workout, but got a phone call from the Jets and he decided that New York would’ve been the best situation for him with Gang Green being in Hofstra’s backyard.
“I felt that it was best for me since it was at Hofstra,” he said, “I know that it being at Hofstra doesn’t give me an advantage but I think familiarity was a factor and the Jets have a good O-line coach in Callahan.”
McMackin was referring to former Nebraska Cornhusker head coach Bill Callahan. And after getting noticed during rookie minicamp, McMackin has had the chance to test himself against some NFL regulars and work closely with Callahan.
“He’s a very smart guy,” McMackin said. “It’s been fun learning from him.”
Like many rookies, McMackin has sought out advice from a few linemen that have had NFL experience.
“Rob Turner no question has helped me a lot,” he said. “He’s played both center and guard and we’ve become almost like brothers. I’ve looked to Alan Faneca for technique and Nick Mangold for form and just try to learn from those guys.”
According to Faneca, the rookie linemen have showcased dedication and willingness to learn. He’s been there and knows how it was.
“It’s funny when a player comes up to you and asks for help because I remember when I was that player who was asking for help,” Faneca said. “I’m happy to do it. You got to push them. You have to stick with them and watch them and be a kind of quasi on-the-field coach.”
McMackin said that he was pleasantly surprised when he got word that he was being signed. However, he wasn’t sure if it was going to happen.
“I was very unsure if I did well enough at first,” he said. “We finished up with the minicamp and the conditioning test and I said to myself that if I get cut that I did everything I could. But after the test they told me to come upstairs and it’s been history from there on out.”
At the full-team minicamp last week, McMackin spoke to JI once again and commented on his transition to center since he was signed on May 4.
"I've gotten the hang of it so far," he said during Friday mornings practice. "A couple of weeks ago it was weird but now it's all coming together."
The Jets hope they may have found another value from the local pool at Hofstra.