Aug. 10, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Will Jackson is proud to be a member of Georgia Tech’s offensive line.
He also prides himself on being well-rounded and open to seeing both sides of an issue.
In 2012, those two worlds met up as Jackson saw action from both sides of the Yellow Jackets’ offensive line. He started the season’s first two games at left guard — something he’d done in each of his first 22 starts (nine in 2010 and all 13 games in 2011) — then started the next five games at right tackle.
He was so good in his new position that in his first start, that he earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week, following Tech’s 56-20 demolition of Virginia last Sept. 15, a game that saw the Jackets ramble for 461 yards on the ground, the ninth-biggest game in school history, and gain 9.2 yards per rush. He’d start four more games on the right side before a series of nagging injuries got in his way and kept him from starting again the remainder of the season.
Jackson is healthy again but also could be on the move in helping to fill in with the injuries that have hit his compatriots on the O-Line.
That’s okay with him. He knows Tech’s option attack inside out, knows where he wants to take the Jackets — back to the ACC Championship and to another bowl victory — and in what direction he needs to go to get there — straight ahead, preferably into another defensive lineman.
Today’s initial scrimmage is a great place to start.
“It feels good to go out and actually play some football,” said the 6-3, 295-pounder from Knoxville, Tenn., “We haven’t had a chance to actually get out there and play football the way it’s supposed to be played in full pads. So it’s nice to bang around a little bit and have some contact against the defense. Even if it’s on your own team it’s nice to play football.”
The scrimmage may not show the true potency of the offensive line as much as the depth of the unit’s talent, something that will become especially evident as the more experienced starters on the unit get healthy.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in this group,” he said. “You’ve got guys, this will be my fourth year starting. I know, as a redshirt freshmen (in 2010) that Ray [Beno] and Jay [Finch] both played a little bit. So we’ve got significant experience going back four seasons. On top of that, [junior] Shaq Mason has really been playing since his true freshman year. He’s got a lot of experience as well. There’s a lot of depth behind those guys that have played in games and have gotten some meaningful reps in practice. All in all it’s a very talented, very deep group and I’ve got a lot of confidence in it. I believe the team does as well.”
It should. The Yellow Jackets have finished in the top four in the nation in rushing in each of the past five seasons and have averaged at least 311 rushing yards per game in each of the three years Jackson’s started. He doesn’t foresee any change in that this season.
“That’s our M.O.,” he said. “We always want to make sure that we’re, if not the top, one of the top rushing teams in the country. So coming with such an experienced group this year I feel like we have a good shot to do that again. That’s what Coach Johnson likes to do, be a physical, power-rushing team. So if we’re able to be in the top five and preferably No. 1 in rushing then we feel pretty good about what we’re doing.”
Jackson will be all business in 2013. That includes pursuit of his Master’s degree in Business Administration as he heads straight on toward a future in investment banking (he took a step in that direction over the summer interning with SunTrust, Robinson, Humphrey in Buckhead).
It does NOT include a reprise of his well-documented impersonation of coach Paul Johnson.
“That was a one-time thing,” he said, with a laugh.
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