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Booker's Mack jumps at scholarship offer from USF


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He's looking to break Jimmy Baxter's HJ record and is considering walking-on in basketball his soph year.


Booker's Mack jumps at scholarship offer from USF



Published Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.

SARASOTA  Marquis Mack has had his eyes on the University of South Florida high jump record of 7 feet, 5 inches for some time.

The recent Booker High graduate believes it is the first goal he needs to conquer if he is to reach his dream of jumping for the United States in the 2012 Olympics.

Mack took the first step in that direction on Monday when he signed a letter-of-intent to accept a full-ride athletic scholarship to compete for the Bulls.

The USF high jump record is held by Jimmy Baxter from St. Petersburg Boca Ciega High, who came to the Bulls primarily to play basketball, but was a three-time All-American in track. His 7-5 placed him third at the NCAA national meet in 2004.

The 6-foot-6 Mack is also a basketball player, but considers himself a high jumper first, though he was a Herald-Tribune first team All-Area basketball selection this past season along with being named H-T Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 2008.

Mack's personal best jump of 7-2 tied with three others for the best high school mark in the country this past season. It also equaled Baxter's best high school jump, which he did at the state meet and still stands as the state meet record with two others.

The 18-year-old Mack cleared a major hurdle about three weeks ago when he reached the score he needed on his SAT to qualify. Soon after, USF sent him an official offer.

"My first year of college I am hoping to break Baxter's record," Mack said. "Because I took the SAT late, I won't be enrolling until second semester, but I am coming. It's close to home and where I wanted to go. They have a lot of new track facilities and the program is moving up."

The 180-pounder won the Class 3A state meet last spring when he cleared 6-10. He cleared 7-2 at the Booker Invitational earlier in the season. He placed third at the state meet as a junior and fourth as a sophomore. Only four USF high jumpers have cleared 7 feet and all came after 2000.

Mack said the USF coaches want to him to focus on the high jump and then look at other events, including the 400-meter run. He will be working with long-time Bulls high jump coach Don Marsh.

"I've never had a full-time high jump coach so I am looking forward to that," Mack said. "I am glad this is over and I can settle down. I plan to get a job and continue working out until I enroll in January. Now, I am training for the USA Track & field Junior Olympics national meet (scheduled to begin July 23 in Omaha, Neb.)

Chris Bratton, head coach of the Florida Express which Mack is representing at the USA national meet, believes Mack has Olympic talent.

"In Marquis, you have a person who has jumped 7-2 so there is that potential anytime he competes," Bratton said. "It's a matter of where his head is at. He is a good sprinter and under the right setting he could flourish and jump a lot more than 7-2."

Mack said he has not spoken to USF head basketball coach Stan Heath, but might consider walking on during his sophomore season.


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I'll take all the hoops walk ons I can get :)

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