There wasn’t much for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to hang their hat on following a disappointing 5-7 campaign in 2012, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. As a unit, the Deacons ranked No. 88 in total defense and No. 91 in scoring defense. If Wake Forest hopes to stay out of the bottom of the ACC in 2013, they will need more from their defense and outside linebacker Justin Jackson must be the one to give it to them.
Jackson is a physical specimen on the defensive side of the ball and must use that athleticism more consistently in 2013 to become an unstoppable defensive force. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound playmaker has been clocked in the 40 at 4.44 and has a broad jump over 11-feet. On top of that, according to Wake’s strength coach, he has a hang clean of 400 pounds.
He used that athleticism and strength to emerge as a leader of the Deacons’ defense during his junior season. He led the team with 81 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss, and shared the team lead with four sacks. Jim Grobe is going to need even more out of him in 2013, though, including a more consistent presence in the backfield rushing the passer and by creating some turnovers.
There is plenty to work on with Wake Forest’s defense next fall, but not an abundance of playmakers to get it done. That puts the pressure on Jackson to take his game to the next level in 2013 and become a force in the ACC to give the Deacons any shot at moving up next season.