The Terps are looking for all kinds of versatile athlete to fit offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s spread system, and on Feb. 24 UMD headman D.J. Durkin approved an offer to running back/slot/receiver/H-back Deon Jackson (Pace Academy/Atlanta, Ga.), a jack-of-all-trades who had been flying under the radar. The 6-foot-190-pounder projects as a running back/H-back at Maryland, although Jackson couldn’t care less what position the coaches want him for. He was just thrilled to have his first power-five offer.
“What happened was one of their coaches, [Director or Recruiting Marcus] Berry, started following me on Twitter. And then I gave him a call, and he told me the Maryland coaches had watched my film, liked what they saw and wanted to offer me,” said Jackson, who previously pulled verbals from Colorado State, Fresno State, Georgia State, Mercer and Troy. “Coach Berry said the run a no-huddle spread at Maryland, and how I could fit in real well there as a 1-back, 2-back or even in the slot. He said they loved my versatility.”
Naturally, Jackson was quite taken by Berry’s words.
“I was actually kind of shocked at first, because it was my first power-five offer. I was really excited and I plan on visiting sometime soon with my mom,” Jackson said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the running backs coach [Anthony Tucker] and the other staff members too. I’m interested in Maryland, for sure. It sounds like a great fit.”
Having grown up in Florida and now living in Georgia, Jackson didn’t hear a whole lot about the Terps in his younger years. But he learned some from Berry Feb. 24, while he did catch a few games on TV in the past.
“Well, I know they’re Big Ten, and that’s big,” laughed Jackson. “But Coach Berry, he was telling me the founder of Under Armour graduated form there, which is really cool. And they’re building a new $150 million facility, which sounds great too. It looks like it’s going to be great.
“And I have seen Maryland on TV a couple times, and the first thing I always notice when I’m watching college games is the uniforms. And Maryland’s, they definitely caught my eye (laughs). Those are sweet.”
For the time being, UMD represents Jackson’s most significant verbal, thus it’s the one he’s focused on. That said, he said he has no clear leaders and isn’t anywhere close to deciding on one, even if he did have more power-five offers.
That said, Jackson does have a dream school of sorts.
“Florida has always been my favorite school as a kid. I’m actually from Florida and the St. Petersburg area, and I have a lot of family there,” Jackson said. “So that’s one dream school I guess you could say.”
The Gators’ staff hasn’t been in touch as of yet, however. The programs who have contacted Jackson include South Carolina, North Carolina, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech and various other SEC and ACC schools.
The Pace Academy product has visited UGA, Ga Tech, UNC and a couple more regional programs. He said he’s enjoyed each of the schools he’s seen, but hasn’t looked too deeply into any of them yet since none have anted up.
“Right now I’m just enjoying the process, but things are starting to pick up now,” said Jackson, who mentioned location is not a concern for him. “I’ll be happy with any offer I get. I don’t have any leaders or favorites, or offers I’m really, really hoping for. I’ll just evaluate who all comes in.”
Jackson is coming off a season where he rushed for 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns and recorded 235 receiving yards and three more scores. He played nine games at running back and four at wideout/slot.