Underrated defensive end is working hard to make his impact
In an era where players are told they will be superstars from the moment they step on the field, Miami freshman defensive end Joe Jackson knows nothing is set in stone.
“Nothing is guaranteed,” Jackson said to me while speaking about his role on the team. “So right now, I just have to keep working hard at what I’m doing.”
Hard work has never been a stranger to Jackson, who enters Miami as a freshman this season out of Gulliver Preparatory School in Homestead, Florida. As a four star prospect coming out of High School, Jackson committed to Miami in January of 2016. Jackson immediately showed a lot of potential out of high school, but with a new coach and a talented front four in Coral Gables, Jackson knew he had his work cut out for him.
Rather than shy away from the challenge; however, Jackson has gotten better; learning one day at a time.
“It is a lot of practices, its tough. Guys are going through stuff for the first time and they are challenged every day like they are never challenged before.” Miami defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said when speaking about the adjustment of a freshman like Joe Jackson. “It’s tough sometimes to still focus on getting better every day, but if he does that he is going to be a great player. He needs to focus on getting better and staying focused, but he loves football.”
As a freshman stepping into a new role in 2016, Jackson enters a talented Miami front. Led by upperclassmen Al-Quadin Muhammad and Chad Thomas on the outside, Miami’s defensive line has many veteran leaders. This season should serve as learning one for Jackson, who is taking in advice on a daily basis from the experienced lineman.
“They help with everything and they don’t beat around the bush,” Jackson said while speaking positively about his teammates. “They tell you what you are doing wrong, if you have to do them they tell you do go back and get extra reps. I mean, they are trying to push up to help us become better, they want to trust us so we can come in.”
And while Jackson is closely observing how those around him play at the collegiate level, he himself plans to work on his physical shape. The defensive end is currently listed at 6-5 250 lbs, but by the time this season ends Jackson hopes to be “255 or 260” pounds, all while working with his nutritionist to improve his body percentage. Jackson is already in good shape coming into his freshman year, but with more work and added conditioning, Jackson should be able to reach around the same weight as junior Chad Thomas.
Jackson will focus on improving for his future as a ‘Cane, but after hard work in practice, the freshman will be ready to step in as soon as possible.
“The thing is, if he gets a chance to play this year, he just needs to go in there and be the best player he can be,” Coach Kuligowski said. “The things that he is doing well is that he’s being coachable, he is playing extremely hard, and he is not timid. He is not being arrogant or anything, but he is certainly acting like he fits in.”
And with a new coaching staff entering campus and the first game less than a month away, the group’s overall unity has Jackson excited about 2016.
“I think we are gonna have a great defense, a great team overall, and hopefully I’ll get to play and get a chance to show what I can do,” Jackson said.
Whether Jackson’s impact is felt this year or not, there is little doubt that he has become a large part of this defensive line’s future moving forward.