The University of Miami defensive end who is as stellar off the field as he is on it has been added to the numerous preseason accolades given to several of his teammates.
Fifth-year senior Demetrius Jackson, who missed most of spring football while recuperating from season-ending, right-knee surgery in November to repair a torn meniscus, was named Thursday as a candidate for the Wuerffel Trophy.
The trophy is recognized as college football’s top award for community service and is presented annually to the “FBS player [who] best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.’’
Jackson, 6-3 and back down to about 260 pounds, was the Miami Herald’s 2014 Miami-Dade Male Athlete of the Year out of Miami Booker T. Washington High. Jackson, UM’s Community Service Man of the Year the past two seasons, cares as much about his community as he does his Hurricanes — and he grew up adoring his Canes.
In 2017, Jackson played in seven games and was a major contributor as a backup to starting end Joseph Jackson. Demetrius Jackson had 18 tackles and led the Canes at that point with 7 1/2 tackles for loss. He also had 3 1/2 sacks, an interception, two pass breakups, and a quarterback hurry.
He even played defensive tackle in certain situations.
With all the former D-linemen who have departed since last season — Chad Thomas, Trent Harris, Kendrick Norton, R.J. McIntosh, Anthony Moten, and transfer D.J. Johnson — the Canes need Jackson more than ever.
In late May at a community-service event at Carter Elementary, Jackson was candid about what it would take to get past a team like Clemson, which crushed the Canes in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game and is expected by the national media to win the conference again.
“You know, no disrespect to Clemson. Watching them on the sideline with my crutches,’’ he replied, “they didn’t do anything spectacular. They’ve just been there before. They just came and played ball. And I think we didn’t. It was our first time there. We got a little star-struck and gazed, like, ‘Whoa, we’re here.’ But that’s not the goal. The goal is to get there and win it.
“...Let’s not be star-struck. We were just knocking on the door last year. This time we’re looking for us to get in that door.”
Off the field, Jackson empowers others. He was selected as one of three ACC student-athletes to serve on the league’s Autonomy Committee and was awarded the ACC Top Six Award for Service. He works with the Boys and Girls Club of Miami, is a mentor for young men in his Overtown neighborhood, and has organized turkey drives during Thanksgiving.