Miami has needed players with an innate ability to rush the passer. After several failed projects and a system that didn’t help, Mark Richt and staff found their man in Freshman DE Joseph Jackson.
As a Recruit
Jackson was a consensus 4-star recruit out of local Miami (FL) Gulliver Prep HS. Teammates with 2016 signees S Cedric Wright and WR Dionte Mullins (and 2017 early enrollee RB Robert Burns) at Gulliver, Jackson starred on both sides of the ball.
Jackson played WR, TE, RB, DE, DT, and LB for Gulliver in his career, each with great success. Jackson committed to Miami early in January 2015, and never wavered on his commitment. I said throughout his senior year that Jackson was a 5-star caliber player, as did many others. With the fact that he was solidly committed to Miami and did not take visits to other schools, his rating by the recruiting industry (Rivals, Scout, ESPN, and 247sports) suffered. Can’t get clicks by telling people a kid is solidly committed and not thinking about flipping.
Anyway, I told anyone who would listen that Jackson was a top tier recruit, and he ended his prep career with 19 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 9 fumbles recovered, among many other statistics accumulated in a 4 year varsity career.
As a Freshman
Jackson got on campus and quickly showed that he had the game to hit the field early on as a freshman. Jackson earned rave reviews from teammates and coaches alike, and the anticipation grew.
The 6’5” 245lb VIPER wasted no time making his impact felt. Jackson had 1 tackle in the season-opening win against Florida A&M. He really made his introduction to the world of College Football with 3 tackles and 2 sacks against FAU.
That was only the beginning for Jackson.
Jackson had a very solid game against Georgia Tech in the ACC opener, providing solid play against the run, and ending with a tackle, a sack and forced fumble, and a separate 18 yard fumble return for a TD.
After splashing on the scene in game 2 vs FAU, Jackson was a mainstay in the rotation for Miami. He ended up starting the last 6 games, and was a terror for the opposition to block. The only game on the year that Jackson was shutout of the scoresheet was the Pittsburgh game, but that’s okay. Time and time again, Jackson showed that he’s an elite player with a bright future.
In total, Jackson ended the 2016 season with 32 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery (which he returned 18 yards for a TD). For his solid work, Jackson was named a Campus Insiders Freshman All-American, and mentioned by several other outlets as well.
Joseph Jackson has the talent, the athleticism, and the drive to be great. And, working in Miami’s attacking defense and getting coached by the best DL coach in America — Craig Kuligowski — I have no doubt that Jackson has only scratched the surface of his considerable talents.
If his 2016 season is any indication, Hurricanes fans better enjoy Jackson while they can, because he won’t be around Coral Gables for long.