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Former East Mississippi Community College safety Jeremy Mack Jr., right, poses with Colorado safeties coach Brett Maxie. Mack has verbally committed to CU. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Mack Jr.)

Jeremy Mack Jr. had visions of playing one more year of junior college football before finding a home at a four-year school.

“But out of nowhere Colorado hit me up,” he said.

Mack’s plans quickly changed and on Tuesday he announced that he has verbally committed to play for the Buffaloes next fall. Mack, a safety from East Mississippi Community College, has four years to play three seasons and is slated to join the Buffs in the summer.

“It’s very exciting, man,” said Mack, who took an official visit to CU last weekend. “It felt like home. The coaches showed me and my family love. What more can I ask for? The other thing is the opportunity they gave me to come in and play at that type of school and do what I’m supposed to do on the field.”

Mack was one of two players to commit to CU on Tuesday, along with Anthony Hankerson, a running back at St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School. Hankerson is slated to grayshirt and delay his enrollment until January of 2023.

As a freshman at EMCC last season, Mack earned first-team all-conference honors from the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference. He had 40 tackles, four interceptions, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

“Two weeks ago, I was planning on coming back to JUCO,” Mack said. “Everybody said if I came back to JUCO I’d get a whole lot of offers.”

Then, CU called. The Buffs lost starting safety Mark Perry, who transferred to TCU. Three other safeties — Curtis Appleton, Chris Miller and Trustin Oliver — have put their names in the transfer portal, as well.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Mack gives the Buffs some depth and experience at safety.

“They want me to come in and play safety and nickel,” he said. “They told me if I come in and do what I’m supposed to do I should have a great opportunity to play. They want me to come in and do what I showed on film at East Mississippi.”

What he showed was the ability to make plays against the run and pass, and he hopes to do the same for the Buffs.

“I like to cover and I like to tackle, too,” he said. “I feel like I can do both. I feel like I’m smart. I can read stuff and I feel like I’m a playmaker. I have good instincts. I like to make plays.”

A 2021 graduate of Clinton (Miss.) High School, Mack said that despite making plays during his prep career he “had nothing but JUCO offers.”

“I went to East Mississippi with hopes of balling out,” he said.

He did and now gets an opportunity to prove himself with a Power 5 conference school.

“It’s just hard work and God, man,” he said. “God put me in these opportunities, so I’m not amazed, I’m just blessed.

“I’m very grateful. I told the coach, ‘Thank you.’ I said thank you almost the whole weekend about everything. The whole thing was new to me. I’m very grateful and I need to make the most of my opportunity.”

Mack has done quite a bit of traveling, he said, but has lived his entire life in Mississippi and is looking forward to a new adventure.

“I was telling coach I could get used to it,” he said. “It’s different. I grew up wanting to live on that side of the country, so it’s big for me. It’s a childhood dream.

“(The Mack family) all went up there this weekend and it’s just a different experience than Mississippi. There’s not that much in Mississippi, so just having the opportunity to go play in a state like Colorado and better myself as a man in the next coming years is big for my family and me.”

Hankerson is a 5-9, 190-pound senior at St. Thomas Aquinas, which finished last season ranked No. 9 nationally by A three-star recruit, Hankerson helped the Raiders to three consecutive Class 7A state titles, topping 1,000 rushing yards in each of those seasons. He had 1,057 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior.

Hankerson received a scholarship offer from the Buffs on Thursday and he took an unofficial visit to CU last weekend. He has 29 total offers and visited Florida International, led by former CU head coach Mike MacIntyre, recently.