The elder statesman of the University of Miami defensive line has used up enough of his patience and good will to realize it's time to get back on the football field for real — especially with all those former Hurricane linemen having graduated or in the NFL.
Chad Thomas is gone. Trent Harris is gone. Kendrick Norton is gone. RJ McIntosh is gone. Anthony Moten is gone. D.J. Johnson transferred to Oregon.
So, being out (or very limited in spring) since season-ending, right-knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in early November has gotten old for talented fifth-year senior Demetrius Jackson, despite his ever-upbeat disposition.
Come September 2, better believe that Jackson — the Miami Herald's 2014 Miami-Dade Male Athlete of the Year out of Booker T. Washington High and UM's Community Service Man of the Year — will be on that D-line at AT&T Stadium ready to pummel some poor LSU running back or signal-caller.
The 6-3 Jackson, back down to 262 pounds, played in seven games last year and was a major contributor as backup to starting end Joseph Jackson. He 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 breakups and a quarterback hurry. He even played defensive tackle in certain situations.
Jackson was asked what it would take to get past a team like Clemson, which demolished UM in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
"You know, no disrespect to Clemson. Watching on the sideline with my crutches, 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.
"Give everything we’ve got every day to each other and I promise you, like I promised the guys when we came back to spring, ‘If we give everything to each other, we’re going to be successful in this game.’
"It’s been a long road recovering, a long road getting to this point. As a senior and as a leader on this team, I’ve earned 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."
Jackson said this week during a community service outing at Carver Elementary in Coral Gables, that he was, indeed, cleared during spring practice, but was held back. "You know, precautions,'' he said, noting he did some one-on-one contact drills, but no live team periods during scrimmages.
"Makes no sense to go ahead and get hurt,'' Jackson said. "God forbid. I’m not going to get hurt again, but it made no sense to put it at risk during the spring. Being on the bikes is not fun, you know, watching your teammates go get it. I wanted to do more things ... but I had to listen to the coaches and look at the bigger picture.
"We ain't going to win no championship in April, May. We’re going to win it in December, January. ''
Jackson said that the younger linemen, such as 6-5, 275-pound sophomore tackle Jonathan Ford, 6-4, 235-pound sophomore end Jonathan Garvin and 6-3, 280-pound redshirt sophomore tackle Tyreic Martin opened up during the spring so that he could help them as a leader. Garvin excelled his freshman season, with three tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick.
"It’s just been great to see those guys put it all in,'' Jackson said. "I’m very confident going into this summer, as we start our workouts and in camp, to know we’re going to have a good squad. One to two people don’t stop this show here. It’s never going to stop this show. We’ve got a group of guys that can really go get it done. Especially with the guys coming in — [Illinois graduate transfer] Tito [Odenigbo] and freshmen Nesta [Silvera] and Jordan [Miller].
"...The expectation hasn't changed. Come December, I'm very confident we'll be seeing Clemson again. We want the outcome to be different.''