Jack Driscoll had a decision to make. With his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts already in tow, what did he want to do next?
Considering he had graduated in just three years and had two years of college football eligibility remaining, Driscoll knew he wanted to continue his education. And football, that was a no-brainer.
So Driscoll applied to UMass to get a Masters in Business, but there was one catch. He didn’t get into the program.
That left him with the ultimate decision. Abandon UMass, which had taken him off the fields of Madison and Hand High School or look for another school where he could do both.
He chose the latter.
“There were no hard feelings with UMass,” Driscoll said. “I’ve wished them good luck this season.”
Then came the formality of getting a release from UMass and the NCAA allowing Driscoll to play right away somewhere else. Schools weren’t able to talk to him until he was released, which took some time. Along the way, retired Hand football coach Steve Filippone and current Hand coach Dave Mastroianni stepped in to assist him in the recruiting process.
“I have a lot of college football friends, but I didn’t realize I had so many,” said Filippone, who was Driscoll’s coach during his career at Hand and his original college recruitment. “I got calls and told Jack who was calling. Once he got his release, he was the hottest commodity in college football.”
“People were calling left and right to see what his status was,” Mastroianni said. “He’s done everything he’s supposed to make himself a good football player.”
Plenty of schools were interested, including Michigan, Duke and Baylor, but he whittled his final three choices down to Auburn, Southern California and UCLA.
“UMass played schools on that level, such as Tennessee and they had film on him,” Filippone said. “They weren’t looking for someone to fill out their rosters. They were looking for someone to start.”
Driscoll eventually chose Auburn, perennially one of the top programs in the Southeastern Conference and country.
“It felt like home and I really liked the school and atmosphere,” Driscoll said. “Playing in the SEC was something I really couldn’t pass up and I saw myself succeeding here.”
Driscoll is competing for the starting job at right tackle with redshirt freshman Austin Troxell and could beat out Troxell by the time 10th-ranked Auburn plays sixth-ranked Washington in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic Sept. 1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
“He has a realistic chance to start,” Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes said. “He’s very mature and is both book smart and has a high football IQ.”
Driscoll comes to Auburn with some impressive numbers at UMass. He started eight games at either left guard or left tackle as a redshirt freshman before he started all 12 games at right tackle in his sophomore year when he was named to the All-ECAC Second Team. Driscoll also had the second-highest grade (85.1) among offensive tackles in Group of 5 conferences, according to Pro Football Focus. A grade of 85 or higher is considered NFL ready.
Driscoll was overlooked coming out of Hand, because he hadn’t totally developed into his body. He was 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds in 2015.
“I was a little undersized coming out of high school,” Driscoll said. “That’s why I didn’t have a lot of big-time schools interested. They weren’t looking for guys that were projects.”
He’s certainly not undersized any longer. He took advantage of strength, conditioning and nutrition programs at UMass, plus getting rid of fast food stops to fill out into a 6-foot-5, 300-pound frame.
“Jack was a 245-pound tight end in high school,” Grimes said. “Now, this guy belongs at an SEC school. He’s doing a heck of a job and is one of those kids who is a pro before he’s a pro. He approaches the game in a pro way.”
When he’s done at Auburn, Driscoll could end up being the top college football player ever to come out of the legendary Hand program.
“He’s going to play in the NFL, so he’s definitely in the argument,” Mastroianni said.
Driscoll is one of two major Division I players (UConn’s Matt Walsh is the other) who played for Filippone. There were three others under legendary coach Larry Ciotti as well in Craig Thornberry (Virginia) and David Thompson and Jim Bell, who both starred at Boston College, but none at the level of Auburn.
Driscoll plans on getting his graduate degree, but thoughts of playing football on Sundays in the National Football League have been in his mind since he was a young kid.
“My goal is to play as long as I can, but to have an MBA degree from Auburn is something that will last for my whole life,” Driscoll said. “I do value education and I’ll have two great degrees to fall back on.”
Grimes, who has coached at several major college programs thinks Driscoll can be an NFL offensive lineman.
“I think he can and I’ve coached 60 to 70 NFL guys,” Grimes said. “I think he’s a draftable kid in two seasons and he’ll need them both.”
Filippone hopes to be able to turn on his television and see his former player in the NFL for many years.
“He’s good at it and he loves the game,” Filippone said. “If you’re the starting right tackle for two years at Auburn, you’re going to get looked at by the NFL.”
Ironically, his younger brother, Flynn, also will attend Auburn, but as a student only. They won’t see each other all the time as Driscoll is living in the athletic residence, while Flynn will be elsewhere on campus, but they will certainly make time for each other.
“It’ll be nice to have him here,” Driscoll said. “He wants to make his own friends, but I’m sure we’ll see each other on campus and grab a bite to eat.”
And that makes Tiger Nation a Driscoll family affair.