Maurice Jackson Starts The Fires At Richmond

Richmond's Maurice Jackson Brings The Energy

Richmond defensive lineman and 2019 Preseason Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year Maurice Jackson will do plenty of difficult things this season. His 56-yard touchdown Week 1 against Jacksonville isn’t one of them. 

“Those things are nice, but to pick up a ball and to carry it into the end zone is not really the toughest thing to do for a defensive lineman,” said Spiders coach Russ Huesman. 

It may not be the toughest, but it’s definitely “the coolest,” as Jackson put it. 

“It doesn’t really happen a lot, so for it to happen in the first week was pretty fun,” he said. 

And the Spiders had fun with it. After Jackson ran back the fumble forced by his partner on the line, Colby Ritten, teammates pantomimed photos of Jackson striking poses that would impress Derek Zoolander. 

That show of exuberance and “pure emotion,” as Jackson described it, reflects the Spiders’ desire to break out in the Colonial in 2019. 

“Go out there and prove ‘em wrong,” he described as the team focus at the outset of this new season. “Going 4-7 last year, 6-5 the year before, everyone’s written us off as a team that won’t do damage CAA. But we really know we can…All the hard work we put in showed off in that first game, now we have to continue to make sure everybody sees it.” 

A scoop-and-score is a nice highlight-reel moment, but it’s the less glamorous work Jackson puts in daily that shapes his future as perhaps the best defender in FCS, an NFL draft prospect, and a leader in life away from football. That’s also the story of Jackson’s rise at Richmond. 

Jackson arrived on Richmond’s campus from Levittown, Pennsylvania, where he played a linebacker-safety hybrid position. He excelled at it, too, earning all-state recognition. 

But in his first year at UR, playing on a defense coordinated by Chris Cosh (now at Delaware), Jackson switched to the line. 

“It was a little rough,” Jackson said of the adjustment. “I was always playing in space. So going down there, in college — not to mention, the Division I level — it was almost a culture shock. I wasn’t used to being in tight quarters, having to use my hands more, having to hit the same person every play. Which isn’t a problem, but after a while, it was like, ‘Dang, I’ve been hitting the same guy all day, what the heck?’ 

“It took some getting used to, and I’m still getting used to it,” he continued. “Defensive line isn’t a positon where you can go into and feel at home off the bat. So I’m still getting used to it.” 

If this isn’t Jackson fully accustomed to his role, that’s a terrifying prospect for opposing quarterbacks. He earned All-American recognition in 2018 after recording 10 sacks and CAA-leading statistics of 15 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. 

He’s flourished on the line in part due to his background playing in space, combining the explosion and hand-fighting skills learned at end with the reactionary qualities that made him a prep standout at linebacker/safety, all at about 280 pounds. 

And Jackson’s willingness to take on new positions should enhance his NFL prospects. He can play at outside linebacker, five-technique, and three-technique without losing effectiveness. According to Huesman, Jackson’s ability to shed blockers has only grown in his time captaining coordinator Adam Braithwaite’s defense. 

 “The thing he’s really tried to do is become a great leader, not only in his room with the defensive line but a leader throughout this football team,” Huesman said. “He’s always been a practice guy, and vocal guy in practice, but taking it to the whole defense and taking it to the football team is something he’s done throughout the summer and this first week — really putting this team on his shoulders.” 

Leadership is a quality coaches often repeat about top players. For Jackson, it’s a trait that can transcend football. 

Part of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into his rising stature is in the classroom. Jackson is taking a class load this fall that includes biology and anthropology. He’s completing his capstone course for his major in sociology, considering a future after football that gives him the opportunity to mold youngsters as a teacher and coach. 

“I’ve had my eyes on teaching, it’s something I’ve always wanted: to help people in areas I can cover, kids in high schools who are impoverished,” he said. “Or mentoring, because I had someone do it for me to get me to where I am.” 

All that work put in elsewhere presents Jackson with those celebratory moments — like his touchdown in Week 1. 

Dimitri Holloway Is 'The Glue' For JMU's Dominant Defense

Last Saturday was one of those days when it seemed like James Madison linebacker Dimitri Holloway could do no wrong. Even when he failed to do his assignment, things still turned out for the best.

The Big Picture: Eighty-One Yards To Stay Alive

null

Nov. 25 marks the 18-year anniversary of one of the most repeated rants in football history. The Big Picture pays early tribute to Jim Mora Sr. with this Playoffs?! Edition. 

William & Mary's Bronson Yoder Is As Versatile As They Come

Freshman Bronson Yoder is listed as a safety on the William & Mary football roster. That’s not inaccurate, but his contributions aren’t limited to the defensive side of the ball.

James Madison Looks To Lock Up CAA Title Against Richmond

HIGHLIGHTS: Richmond vs Villanova

An outright Colonial Athletic Association championship is at stake for James Madison on Senior Day 2019. The Dukes carry a nine-game win streak and the only perfect mark in what has otherwise been a chaotic CAA season against a Richmond team needing a big win to stay in the postseason hunt.

The Playoffs Begin Early In The CAA

HIGHLIGHTS: New Hampshire vs JMU

The FCS Playoffs don’t begin until Nov. 30, but some Colonial Athletic Association teams will be part of something very close to a playoff game this weekend.

Upset-Minded Tribe Will Look To Spoil Towson's Postseason Chances

All-Access: Towson

Both Towson and William & Mary carry winning streaks into Week 12, but continuing them into the final Saturday of the regular season means different things. 

7 College Football Games Live November 15-16

With just two weeks left in the regular season, arguably seven CAA schools are in the FCS playoff hunt. All seven will be in action Saturday on Flo along with New Mexico State looking to get their first win of the season against returning FCS playoff team Incarnate Word. 

With Lessons Learned, Villanova's Drew Wiley Is Ready For A Playoff Run

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Five years of hard work came to a head for Drew Wiley and his Villanova teammates in Week 11 against Richmond. 

Ben DiNucci's Turbulent Ascent Wasn't Easy, But It Was Worth It

HIGHLIGHTS: New Hampshire vs JMU

Ben DiNucci’s current place quarterbacking a national championship contender wasn’t guaranteed – not as a middle schooler when he first took up the game, nor just a few years ago. 

The Stakes Are Clear For UNH, UAlbany: Winner Stays Alive

New Hampshire interim head coach Ricky Santos wasn’t exaggerating when he called Saturday’s contest at Albany a playoff game.