Wednesday, September 11, 2019

COLLEGE PARK — Josh Jackson had a pretty good idea what he wanted when he decided to transfer from Virginia Tech to Maryland.

So far, he’s getting it — and then some.

After playing parts of two years with the Hokies, Jackson came to College Park this season hoping for a chance to shine as a quarterback in an NFL-style passing game. And two blowout wins into the season, the Michigan native is firmly established as first-year coach Mike Locksley’s starter and is creating a buzz with a Terrapins team ranked for the first time since 2013.

“I was looking for a place I could continue my academic career and hopefully continue my athletic career, and be in a situation where I could possibly get to the NFL,” Jackson told The Washington Times this week.

He’s found that under Locksley and offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery. Jackson has completed 36 of 62 passes for 541 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception in the season’s first eight quarters.

After starting all 13 games for the Hokies in 2017, Jackson was lost for the season in September of last year with a broken leg. It was a disappointing end to his time in Blacksburg, he said. But while he was there, Jackson said he learned how to shoulder the pressures of being a team leader.

“I am definitely more mature than when I was at 17, going into Virginia Tech,” Jackson said.

That maturity has been key to his adjustment to the Terrapins.

“As time has gone on, I have been more vocal,” he said. “I have a bigger role on the team. I want to continue to be the best I can.”

He is running an offense that doesn’t hesitate to use its tight ends — a big part of the plan for Montgomery, who was let go at East Carolina as head coach after last season.

Montgomery played in the NFL from 2000 to 2003 as a wideout with Oakland and Denver and coached with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2010-12. But it is Montgomery’s Duke degree that prompts ribbing from Locksley.

“Smartest guy in the room,” Locksley said of Montgomery.

In Montgomery’s offense, the Terrapins have had 11 different players haul in at least one catch in the first two games.

That includes four from running backs Jake Funk and three from running back Anthony McFarland. Funk has run for a team-high 173 yards in two games, while McFarland has 130 yards on the ground on just 10 carries.

Tight end Tyler Mabry is another graduate transfer and also from Michigan. The former University of Buffalo player became the first Maryland tight end in 11 years to have touchdowns in back-to-back games.

Jackson said one of the biggest challenges was getting the Terrapins’ playbook under his belt.

“I had to work at it all summer and during camp and even now,” Jackson said. “I just have to continue to study and focus.”

Jackson gives a lot of credit to his offensive line, including senior Ellis McKennie. “He can play anywhere,” Jackson said of McKennie.

Jackson wasn’t a typical transfer to Maryland. He grew up in Ann Arbor, where his father was a coach at the University of Michigan. The younger Jackson earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and is pursuing a master’s in professional studies in technology entrepreneurship.

Jackson is not worried about the Terrapins being overconfident going into Saturday’s contest in Philadelphia against the unranked Temple Owls.

“I think Coach Locksley does a good job with that,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, good or bad, you can’t let the ranking affect you.”

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.