Monday’s announcement on Twitter by Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson that he had committed to spend the last two years of his college career at Maryland created a pretty big buzz on social media from Blacksburg, Va., to College Park.
Here are five things for Maryland fans to know about Jackson before he arrives later this year.
1. Jackson grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich., but the Wolverines recruited him as an “athlete,” not a quarterback.
The son of longtime Michigan assistant coach Fred Jackson, Josh and his older brother Jeremy lived for the maize-and-blue as kids. Jeremy played wide receiver at Michigan from 2010 through 2013, catching 17 passes for 193 yards.
Interestingly, the Wolverines have struggled at the quarterback position since coach Jim Harbaugh decided not to retain the elder Jackson on his staff, as three other Michigan coaches had done after their predecessors departed.
2. Jackson’s college debut against West Virginia set the tone for his redshirt freshman year.
After winning the job in the preseason, Jackson led the Hokies to a 31-24 win over West Virginia in the 2017 season opener. Jackson completed 15 of 26 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown as well as rushing 11 times for 101 yards and a touchdown.
For the season, Jackson had one of the highest efficiency ratings for a freshman quarterback in the country and completed 236 of 396 of his passes (59.6 percent) for 2,991 yards and 20 touchdowns to go with nine interceptions. The Hokies finished 9-4, losing to Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl.
3. Just like Maryland’s last graduate transfer, Jackson is a serious student.
A year ago, Illinois linebacker Tre Watson came to Maryland with a lot less fanfare than Jackson. Despite the fact that he was going to be replacing Jermaine Carter Jr. at inside linebacker, nobody paid much attention to Watson until the 2018 season started.
Along with Watson leading the Big Ten in tackles and being named first-team all-conference, it came to be known that Watson plans on becoming a dentist with hopes of becoming a modern Gary Cuozzo.
Jackson is hoping to become a clinical psychologist, and part of his attraction to Maryland was the post-graduate program in his field of study for a master’s degree and the fact that the school will pay for his doctorate, too, if he can get it done in the next nine years.
4. Jackson might have to negotiate to wear his favorite number.
Though it’s possible that Jackson has already worked a deal with rising sophomore tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo to relinquish the number “Chig” wore during his first season with the Terps, it seems likely Jackson will be wearing No. 17 for his career.
It’s the number Jackson’s father, Fred — whose recommendation of Michael Locksley was a critical part of his decision to become a Terp — wore during his own playing career as a quarterback at Jackson State.
5. At least on paper, Jackson might be the best quarterback Maryland has had as a junior since Scott McBrien.
It’s been a long time since a Maryland quarterback threw for comparable stats as a freshman to what Jackson did in 2017, when he was second behind fellow redshirt freshman Jake Fromm of Georgia in most categories. As a true freshman in 2010, Danny O’Brien completed 192 of 337 passes for 2,438 yards with 22 touchdowns.
While O’Brien’s career fizzled out with the departure of coach Ralph Friedgen and offensive coordinator James Franklin after the 2010 season, Locksley eventually turned O’Brien’s backup, C.J. Brown, into one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in Maryland history.
Given the talent at running back and wide receiver, if Maryland's rebuilt offensive line can protect Jackson better than Virginia Tech did when he was a redshirt freshman (22 sacks), the Terps could have a potent attack. Fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered in the third game last season, Jackson has the chance to put up similar numbers to what McBrien did during his two years as a Terp.