We have reached early signing day week and Kentucky is putting the finishing touches on crootin season. With our player preview series rolling on, we’ll be breaking down one of the lowest ranked recruits in Kentucky’s class but there are a ton of reasons to be excited about this Mike linebacker prospect.
Jon Sumrall joined the staff this past February with the reputation as a good recruiter in the south. The former Troy and Ole Miss assistant did a really good job getting some talented players on campus for camps at Kentucky over the summer, but his first recruiting win occurred with D’Eryk Jackson.
The low three-star prospect from Dublin, Georgia was offered by Ole Miss before Sumrall made the move from Oxford to Lexington. That offer would be followed by Mississippi State and Purdue before Kentucky got the big inside linebacker on campus for a camp in June. While on campus, Mark Stoops gave the linebacker an offer and he committed that day.
Despite approaching 250 pounds, all indications were that Jackson impressed the staff with his athleticism and that he could really move for a big guy. His film backs up those indications.
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When you just look at the raw stats, D’Eryk Jackson was very good for his West Laurens Raiders team by recording over 100 tackles as both a junior and senior in addition to collecting 15 tackles for loss each season. Due to his size and stature, he was often times a man playing against boys at the high school level. He is that thumper linebacker that you want at the Mike spot.
On nearly every tackle you see Jackson make, he is knocking ballcarriers backwards. He’s at his best when he is able to play downhill and in attack mode. As soon as he recognize a run, he is great at filling the alley and delivering a blow when he gets there. He is also a very good blitzer who is not afraid to initiate contact with opposing offensive guards or centers in the A or B gap. He plays with reckless abandon.
Kentucky, like anyone else, asks their Mike linebacker to do a lot and that includes being a run stuffer inside and playing in space when called upon. Jackson will have to prove that he can make plays in coverage at the next level, but there’s no denying he is really, really good in the other area. Huge 240-250 pound linebackers are a dying breed thanks to the spread offense, but UK is going against the current by landing someone who brings a unique skill set that was much more commonplace a decade ago.
With Kash Daniel graduating and both Tra Wilkins and Shawn’kel Knight-Goff transferring after one season, there was obviously a need in Jon Sumrall’s position room. Jamin Davis, Chris Oats, and DeAndre Square have the two spots locked up for the immediate future, but after that there are some positions to be grabbed. This is where Jackson comes in.
He is currently UK’s only committed inside linebacker and it is very clear to see the opportunity for playing time in his future. He is almost certainly headed for a redshirt season, but after that there should be plenty of opportunities for playing time starting as a reserve in 2021 and possibly a starting spot in 2022.
Despite his low ranking, Kentucky seemed just fine with D’Eryk Jackson being the only inside linebacker in the class. They feel obviously satisfied about the current depth of the position despite shrinking numbers, but it should also say a lot what they think about Jackson. The powerful inside linebacker plays with an edge that you just cannot coach and it is easy to see him becoming a menace due to his physicality in between the tackles.