CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – With two linebacker positions locked down since spring ball, the weakside linebacker competition has been a focal point throughout North Carolina’s training camp. That intrigue is officially over.
Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik announced on Thursday that junior Joe Jackson is the “clear No. 1” at the weakside linebacker and later labeled the Jacksonville, Fla. native as the starter at that position.
Jackson had been battling with sophomore Cayson Collins, who had moved ahead of Jackson on the depth chart last fall and finished his freshman campaign with 30 tackles over his final six games.
Linebackers coach John Papuchis said consistency has been the key to Jackson's training camp success.
"He's been the same guy since the day we started this in terms of his work ethic in the meeting room, his commitment to learning the new system, and his ability to execute when he got on the field," Papuchis said.
"Everybody approaches a clean slate with a new staff differently ... Joe really embraced it and I think he looked at it as 'This is my opportunity to redefine who I am and what my career here at Carolina is going to be.' He's done everything I could have asked of him to do up to this point."
Jackson appeared in eight games in 2014, finishing with seven tackles and a tackle for loss.