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Former Terps Cornerback JC Jackson 'Enjoying The Process' Ahead Of NFL Draft

April 2, 2018
Former Maryland cornerback JC Jackson already visited the New Orleans Saints, is set to visit the Oakland Raiders April 2 and met with a "handful" of teams at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Feb. 27-March 5, he said at the Terps' pro day March 28.

Jackson said he met the Saints' "whole coaching staff," including defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn, during his visit to New Orleans.

"It was a good experience, man," Jackson said. "You're just living your dream. This is something you've always wanted to do, coming up as a kid -- go to the NFL, go to different teams. So I'm just enjoying the process. I'm thankful for every opportunity."

Jackson also said he was set to meet with the New England Patriots after his pro day workout March 28.

Jackson posted a 4.46 40-yard dash at the Combine, which was tied for 11th among cornerbacks in Indianapolis; the top time was 4.32 by two corners. Jackson felt he could have run a faster 40-yard dash at the Combine, but he chose not to run at Pro Day March 28, preferring to focus on defensive back drills and the 5-10-5 shuttle run. He recorded a solid vertical jump of 35.5 inches at the Combine, tied for 10th among cornerbacks.

Teams can also meet with prospects for 15 minutes at the Combine, and Jackson detailed those meetings.

"Some teams, they'll get up on the board and they'll draw a defense and they'll want you to remember what they just did," Jackson said. "Some teams, they'll put up your film, go over your good plays, bad plays, stuff like that."

Asked how he handles explaining to coaches what happened on a bad play, Jackson said, "I look forward to tell them why. I'm coachable. I'm looking for why and maybe telling me what I should've did, maybe what could've did wrong."

One negative play that was brought up to Jackson, he said, was a missed tackle against Penn State or Indiana. If the missed tackle in question was against Indiana, it was probably when Jackson whiffed on a tackle of running back Cole Gest, after which Gest scored a touchdown. 

"There was one play I had missed a tackle," Jackson said, "and he was like, 'Oh, I thought you could hit. Why'd you miss the tackle?' I was like, 'Because it's football, I missed a tackle.' But it was all good though, all in fun."

Jackson started 23 games at cornerback for the Terps from 2016-2017. He intercepted four passes, including three in 2017 as he developed into Maryland's best cover corner. Jackson was named an All-Big Ten honorable mention performer by the conference's coaches in 2017; he made 40 tackles and broke up seven passes in addition to his three picks.

But the road to College Park, Md., was a winding one for the Immokalee, Fla., native. He signed with Florida as part of the Gators' 2014 recruiting class out of high school. Terps head coach DJ Durkin, who was on Florida's coaching staff from 2010-2014, helped recruit Jackson to Gainesville, Fla.

Jackson never suited up for the Gators. He redshirted in 2014 due to a shoulder injury and left the program after he was arrested in connection to an armed robbery in Gainesville in April 2015. He was later charged with four first-degree felonies in July 2015 and found not guilty of all charges in November 2015. 

Jackson played at Riverside Community College in 2015 before transferring to Maryland.

"Most of the teams just talked about football," Jackson said of his Combine interviews. "A couple of them asked about my past and how I got to Maryland. But like I said, it was all a good opportunity just to be there."

Jackson credits Durkin with teaching him about "not just being a football player but being a man on and off the field." Carrying a reputation as a good athlete and a physical corner, Jackson declared for the 2018 NFL Draft last December. He projects to go in the third or fourth round and "needs to improve his ball skills, but has eventual starting talent," according to Lance Zierlein, draft writer for NFL.com. 

The draft is April 26-28 in Arlington, Tex., and cornerback-needy teams are surely looking into Jackson.

"I'm just a different breed. I feel like I'm the best," Jackson said. "It's about that mentality. No matter how big, fast you are, you've got to have that mentality. You've got to have that dog mentality."

Note: 46 scouts from 30 different teams attended Maryland's pro day at Cole Field House.

Follow Luke on Twitter @luke_jackson10 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics