New leadership role for Georgia Tech’s Quez Jackson

October 31, 2020 Atlanta - Georgia Tech's linebacker Quez Jackson (44) reacts during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, October 31, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
October 31, 2020 Atlanta - Georgia Tech's linebacker Quez Jackson (44) reacts during the first half of an NCAA college football 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

A year ago, Georgia Tech linebacker Quez Jackson said, he chose to focus on his on-field play. With captain David Curry in the linebacker group, he ceded the leadership role to him.

But after leading the Yellow Jackets in tackles for the past two seasons and also being honored as one of the captains for both of those teams, Curry has moved on, and the leadership role naturally falls to Jackson, who finished second in tackles behind Curry last year in his third season at Tech (with 80 to Curry’s 84).

“I’ve definitely taken a much different approach than what I did last season, going about every phase of my life completely different than what I did last season,” he said. “Just understanding my role and understanding the type of influence that I have within that room and just making sure that all the guys are playing hard.”

Jackson, who has started 15 career games (including all 10 last season) and has yet to miss a game in his career, would seem to have plenty of leadership to offer. And he may have been shortchanging himself in his estimation of his leadership last year. Coach Geoff Collins bestowed upon him a single-digit jersey prior to the start of spring practice, recognition of his status as a leader and teammate. Jackson has switched from No. 44 to No. 4, the number he wore with distinction at Peach County High.

Nevertheless, Jackson said Saturday that he made a pact with himself to be more consistent in all facets of his life.

“This year, now I’m starting to embrace the teammate role, and how can I affect my team more positively, instead of just producing on the field,” Jackson said. “It’s how you can produce in every phase. How you can produce as a teammate, how you can produce as a brother. How you can produce as somebody who just wants to help out some of the younger guys, somebody who looks up to them. I’m really starting to embrace that role now, because it’s not about yourself. It’s about everybody. We’re a whole team.”

In the linebacker group, there’s plenty of younger players that Jackson can influence. Aside from grad transfer Ayinde Eley and junior Charlie Thomas, among scholarship players there’s three players who arrived last year – Khatavian Franks, Tyson Meiguez and Khaya Wright – and early-enrollee freshman Trenilyas Tatum. Jackson said the group is closer than it has been in his time on the team.

“I think the new guys have come in and they’re working hard,” Jackson said. “They’re really understanding their role to try to learn and get better. We’re just trying to make sure we do one thing this year. That’s win. Because that’s our ultimate goal. We don’t really care about anything else. We just want to win.”

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