Georgia Tech’s Quez Jackson gains from commitment to preparation

Georgia Tech linebacker Quez Jackson (44) reacts during a game at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, October 31, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Georgia Tech linebacker Quez Jackson (44) reacts during a game at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, October 31, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Quez Jackson studies a lot of film. Before Georgia Tech’s coaches post the film for the players to look at, the junior linebacker is bugging them and asking when it will be available.

Jackson studies so much film that sometimes it takes his attention away from other things he should be working on. He wasn’t always that way, but after spending the offseason working heavily with fellow linebacker David Curry, he realized that his ability to study film was an area of weakness in his game. He watched video often enough, but not in the level of depth that he needed to truly learn.

“(Curry) knew what was gonna set me apart from everything was my preparation,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I feel like it allowed me to get more time in the film room and more time to just dissect the game and really learn. Not just look at plays and be like, ‘Oh, OK, this is what I’ve gotta do,’ but take the time and sit down and really learn the game. Actually learn everything, what the front’s doing, the secondary, everything.”

Coming out of Peach County High School, Jackson was a three-star recruit, and 247Sports ranked him as the 119th-best player in Georgia. When asked about that ranking, Jackson chuckled.

“That stuff really didn’t faze me,” Jackson said. “I came to college with the right attitude, and I just really focused on getting better. A lot of guys who rank high, they might not be doing good in college right now because there’s so much that goes into it.”

In 12 games last season, Jackson had 49 tackles. Through seven games this season, Jackson leads the team with 57, including 34 solo. His increased preparation is on display in each and every game, though perhaps most noticeably against Notre Dame on Oct. 31.

Jackson led the Yellow Jackets with a career-high 11 tackles in that game, and on multiple occasions, he appeared to know exactly what play the Fighting Irish were about to run.

Early in the fourth quarter, mere moments before Notre Dame snapped the ball, Jackson moved just a little closer to the line of scrimmage. It looked as if he had a sense of what was coming — and he did. Quarterback Ian Book handed the ball to Chris Tyree for a stretch run, but Jackson burst through a gap and stopped Tyree after barely a 1-yard gain.

“That play, I was reading the offensive lineman’s eyes how I did in film study,” Jackson said. “That really told me where to go because they’re gonna tell you where to go.”

Jackson’s tackle led to Notre Dame’s second and final three-and-out of the game. It was his preparation work and film study, inspired by Curry, that allowed him to be in the right place at the right time.

Jackson spoke highly of what he’s learned from Curry so far in his career, particularly in their work together over the past offseason. As a sixth-year player, Curry is the elder statesman of Tech’s linebacker group and the defense as a whole. It seems clear that next year, when Jackson is the senior leader, he’ll be ready to take on that role.

“I just genuinely love this game,” Jackson said. “... (I) watch what I’m doing, watch what David’s doing, watch what’s going on at practice because it really gets me going. I love it. I feel like the aspect of me preparing (more) just comes from me just simply loving the game because I never want to be away from it.”

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