When a player attends the University of Miami on a scholarship, they come to be defined as a football player. Each student-athlete has their own traits, but they’re all parts of a program with the single purpose of elevating and upholding the Hurricanes to a standard of excellence. Yet, there are exceptions to the norm. One of those outliers is DE Demetrius Jackson.
More than a football player, Jackson has been one of the Hurricanes’ most outspoken leaders in the locker room as well as in the local community. His tackles-for-loss endear him to fans, but his ability to relate to people without shoulder pads makes him one one of the best ambassadors UM has produced in recent memory.
Before The U
Demetrius’ path to becoming a Miami Hurricane entials many of the same traits of other high end recruits from South Florida. ‘Made in Dade’ — Dade County that is, Jackson was a four-star prospect at local powerhouse Booker T. Washington High School. A terror as an edge rusher even in high school, Jackson would scream into the backfield on passing downs or rag doll blockers to get to the ball carrier. A blend of twitchy athleticism representing a high ceiling of potential to entice colleges.
Unlike some of his peers, Jackson was a star on the hardwood before he made the switch to football. Having spent most of life playing basketball, the 6’4, 220 pound Jackson was a relative unknown on the gridiron before he put his hand in the grass as a defensive lineman. Jackson helped lead Booker T to a Florida Class 4A State Title in 2013 and finished his senior year with 68 tackles, 12 sacks and 13 QB hurries according to the University of Miami Athletics’ website. D Jax would be named the Male Athlete of the Year by the Miami Herald after his breakout final year. That type of production and success caught the eyes of a few programs who looked at the DE/LB as a prospect that could help bolster their program.
Stayed to help my mother raise my brothers. Play ball for the U and better my community. It’s easy to become successful and leave but staying and helping and being a pillar is hard to some. pic.twitter.com/f1fhUQtrR6— Djack (@F5_Jackson) September 12, 2018
The courting process was on-again, off-again when it came to UM and Jackson. After receiving a scholarship offer from Arkansas, Miami stepped in and followed suit. Soon after, they got a verbal pledge from the local DE. However, as most prospects do when they continue to get offers for their services, he listened to what competitors had to offer in comparison to the Hurricanes. Jackson would decommit, gaining offers from schools such as Texas, Kentucky and Louisville, as well as continued recruitment pitches by Arkansas. Though he did waiver through the process, Jackson ultimately re-committed to the Canes, signing his letter of intent on National Signing Day to make the deal official.
Life as a Cane
Jackson arrived on campus in 2014 expecting to have an immediate impact on the Hurricanes upon his arrival. However, alongside fellow freshmen defensive ends Chad Thomas (former Booker T teammate) and Trent Harris, the opportunities to get on the field did not present themselves in his first year on campus. After taking a redshirt in his first season with the team, D Jax was able to make an impact in his second year at Miami. Playing in seven games that season, Jackson worked his way into the defensive line rotation, picking up snaps here and there where available. In his taste of collegiate action, Jackson accounted for 11 tackles and 0.5 TFL.
The gradual improvement continued into his sophomore year — Jackson played in 11 games with six starts. Jackson proved to be a capable defensive end as the Hurricanes transitioned from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. Jackson settled up with 28 tackles, six TFL, 2.5 sacks and four pass breakups, aligning himself among the most productive members of a burgeoning Canes’ defense. The Mark Richt era allowed Miami to click refresh on defense, giving rise to a unit that mirrors the days when the Hurricanes were not only feared, but backed up their talk with action.
In the early portion of his junior year, D Jax continued to showcase why everyone — coaches, teammates and every fan adored him. Through seven games, Jackson secured 18 tackles, hauled down ball carriers for 7.5 TFL, with 3.5 of those counting as sacks, adding an interception and two pass breakups. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson was credited with having missed just a single tackle in 214 snaps. Sadly, Jackson’s promising 2017 season came to a premature end when the junior suffered a knee injury that required surgery. Despite the injury, Jackson was undeterred in his quest to create positive change.
Love my "TEAMMATES" . Finish strong!!! Minor set back for a major comeback pic.twitter.com/iuEITkC7dz— Djack (@F5_Jackson) November 6, 2017
D Jax ‘s charity, The Young Men of Tomorrow, set out to combat the violence in the city of Miami since 2017. The first major event for the fledgling group was to hand out turkeys in the Overtown neighbourhood, an area that Jackson was pretty familiar with.
“I’m from this community. I’m from Overtown, so it feels great to be able to do this [...] When I was young, I didn’t have anybody come back and do this. Especially doing this with my teammates, it means so much more. … I know some families are in need at this time of year and you can’t tell. You wouldn’t even know. So it’s just a blessing to be able to give out a turkey per family, 15 of them here, to be able to help.”
— Demetrius Jackson
Excerpt from Christy Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel
In spite of being hobbled by the knee injury, Jackson came through for his city. It’s part of the reason why Jackson walked away with the Community Service Man of the Year award at the annual team banquet in 2017. Dedication to a cause is one of Demetrius Jackson’s more redeeming qualities. Vowing to not let the injury be a major setback, Jackson made his return to the field for the 2018 season opener against LSU.
Demetrius Jackson is more than No. 31 for the Hurricanes. He’s more than a teammate, brother, mentor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. D Jax is an inspiration the likes of which you would aspire to be. A man with a cause and a message is a powerful figure. Something that can’t be measured in a statistical category — heart. Which speaks to the character and man of Demetrius Jackson.
We give a salute to D Jax!