NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Friends of John Mackey have released the 2016 John Mackey Award Preseason Watch List and it included Marshall junior tight end Ryan Yurachek.
Yurachek had 44 catches for 417 yards and nine touchdowns last year, a total that led all Thundering Herd non-kickers in scoring, and was named to the league’s 2015-16 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Last month, Athlon selected him for its preseason All-Conference USA second team.
In 2014 as a freshman, Yurachek was one of three Marshall players named to Conference USA All-Freshman Team after playing all 14 games in Herd’s C-USA title season. He had 17 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
His 1-yard scoring catch with 5-seconds remaining in win at FIU was not only his first career TD, but also gave then Marshall senior quarterback Rakeem Cato (currently playing in the CFL at Montreal) an NCAA FBS record 39th consecutive game with a scoring pass, topping the 38 games in a row by current Seattle Seahawks’ signal caller Russell Wilson at North Carolina State and Wisconsin from 2009-11.
Yurachek came to Marshall from Carolina Forest High School in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he caught 23 balls for 294 yards and one touchdown in half of a season due to tearing the meniscus in his left knee in August. He caught 56 passes for 731 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior. His father, Hunter, is the athletic director at the University of Houston, moving from Coastal Carolina University in 2014.
Given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end, the award recipient is selected by vote of the John Mackey Award Selection Committee and the 2016 Mackey Award recipient will be announced on December 7, 2016 and then presented live on December 8 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Red Carpet Show on ESPNU. Future announcements can be found at www.johnmackeyaward.com.
NFL Hall of Fame member John Mackey is considered to be the best to have played the tight end position. A tight end by whom all others are measured, Mackey was a role model on and off the field as demonstrated by his Super Bowl Championship, his commitment to community and his place in history as the first President of the NFLPA.
Mackey was in the Pro Bowl for five seasons, playing 1962-71 for the Baltimore Colts, then his final season of 1972 for the San Diego Chargers. He was named to the Pro Football HOF All-1960s First Team and was three times All-Pro. He played in 139 games, catching 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns, averaging 15.8 catches per season and 37.7 yards per game.
Mackey helped lead the Colts to the 1964 NFL Championship, falling to the Cleveland Browns, then beating the Browns in 1968 NFL Championship to advance to Super Bowl III (falling to the New York Jets) and winning Super Bowl V over the Dallas Cowboys at the end of the 1970 season after a divisional win over the Cincinnati Bengals and the AFC Championship win over the Oakland Raiders.
Mackey was the president of the NFL Players Association after the NFL-AFL merger, working to improve players pension benefits and access to free agency. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992 and passed away on July 6, 2011, at the age of 69.