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Jackson to lead Appalachian State rebound in 2012
QB hopes to channel his predecessors under center for Mountaineers
Jamal Jackson appreciates the significance of playing quarterback at Appalachian State.
“It means a lot, to be appointed the quarterback at Appalachian,” said Jackson, who will start his junior season Sept. 1, when the Mountaineers play at East Carolina. “There is definitely a rich tradition at this university. I’ve got to do my job every day just to be worthy of it.”
The school’s recent history at quarterback includes players Richie Williams and Armanti Edwards, both of whom directed the Mountaineers to national championships from 2005-07.
Even DeAndre Presley, whom Jackson replaced in the starting lineup midway through the 2011 season, was the Southern Conference’s offensive player of the year in 2010.
Jackson said he has strong relationships with all three of his predecessors.
“I’ve tried to take a little bit from each of them,” said Jackson, a communications/advertising major. “I’ve had the opportunity to learn. They each did something that made them into their own kind of quarterback. So I’ve tried to learn from them, so I can mold myself into my own quarterback.”
From Williams, Jackson said he learned how important it is to be an all-around threat. Last season, Jackson threw for a school sophomore record 2,001 yards and rushed for 296 yards in 10 games (he started just seven of them). He accounted for 22 touchdowns (15 passing, seven rushing).
From Edwards, he learned how to lead through example. “He would show you the way on the field, not by talking, but by doing it,” said Jackson.
And from Presley, Jackson learned the power of communicating vocally. “When DeAndre spoke, I listened,” Jackson said.
How well Jackson incorporates those traits into the already impressive skills he owns will go a long way in determining the Mountaineers’ fate this season.
“Jamal is a guy who has played – and while it hasn’t been a ton – it’s always good to have experience at quarterback,” said Appalachian offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield. “The work he’s put in during the offseason has been tremendous.
“He can run and has a really good throwing arm. He’s a big-time weapon for us.”
Jackson was thrust into the middle of things as a sophomore last season after Presley, who had started the season with a shaky game at Virginia Tech and never got the offense fully on track after that, was injured. Jackson responded by completing 21-of-27 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns in his first start against The Citadel. The job was his.
“Like every player, I just wanted a chance to showcase my abilities,” said Jackson. “I had to be ready. And after all that time seeing DeAndre play, I was definitely ready to play.”
It was the first time Jackson had the starting job to himself since his senior season at North Atlanta High. He had grown up in a single-parent home in Atlanta, the son of Kathy Londry. His father Greg, who played 12 seasons in the NFL, wasn’t in the picture.
“Statistics say that growing up with a single mother in the city, you’re not going to make it,” said Jackson. “But my mother put me in a great position to succeed. She pushed in preschool, through high school and on to my diploma. She made sure I finished.”
Jackson helped his mother raise his younger sister Cierra, as well. So much so that Cierra will be a freshman this fall at Boston University on a prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship.
“By the grace of God I’ve had these wonderful kids,” said Londry. “And Jamal was always there to help out. He was very outgoing and playful, but also very protective of his little sister and me. It would take a lot to push his buttons, but if you did, he would straighten you out with love.”
Those kinds of skills will help Jackson as one of the Mountaineers’ leaders this season. Appalachian is “rebounding” from a 2011 season that produced an 8-4 record, a runner-up finish in the Southern Conference and a first-round exit from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
“That might be a good year for most programs, but Appalachian is not ‘most programs,’ ” said Jackson. “This year, we’re going to get back on track.”
By David Scott, Charlotte Observer