Ex-Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson (Saline) settles on Maryland as new home

Don Markus
The Baltimore Sun
Quarterback Josh Jackson is transferring to Maryland.

Josh Jackson, who as a redshirt freshman quarterback at Virginia Tech two seasons ago threw for 20 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards, announced on Twitter this week that he plans on transferring to Maryland.

The announcement followed Jackson’s official visit to the Maryland campus last weekend and three weeks of speculation after Jackson, along with several other Hokies, put his name into the NCAA transfer portal.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Jackson, who attended high school in Saline, is expected to graduate from Virginia Tech this spring and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Given his success before breaking his leg early last season, he is likely the favorite to start for the Terps in 2019.

Jackson becomes the third Football Bowl Subdivision player, and second Hokie, to transfer to Maryland since Michael Locksley was hired as the team’s head coach, joining former Virginia Tech teammate and wide receiver Sean Savoy, as well as former Ohio State outside linebacker Keandre Jones.

The expected signing of Jackson, who also completed nearly 60 percent of his passes as a redshirt freshman in leading the Hokies to a 9-3 record, gives the Terps more depth, experience and potentially talent than they had at the quarterback position in recent memory — perhaps going back more than 20 years.

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Along with Jackson, Locksley signed Lance LeGendre, a four-star prospect from New Orleans who had originally committed to Kansas and was rumored to be headed to Florida State. They will join Tyrrell Pigrome, who began the 2017 season and finished the 2018 season as the starter, as well as Max Bortenschlager, who started nine games in 2017 when both Pigrome and then-true freshman Kasim Hill suffered season-ending knee injuries.

Hill, who saw his 2018 season end the same way when he tore the ACL in his left knee after tearing the ACL in his right knee as a freshman, announced on Twitter recently that he had entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal but was still considering his options. Given the fact that he suffered the most recent injury Nov. 10 at Indiana, Hill is not expected back for the 2019 season.

The anticipated arrival of Jackson will be a tremendous boost to an offense that already has one of the Big Ten’s best group of running backs, led by rising redshirt sophomore Anthony McFarland Jr., who last season rushed for 1,034 yards on 131 carries, as well as a talented group of wide receivers who seemed to be coming into their own late last season.

After winning the starting job as a freshman at Virginia Tech, Jackson completed 15 of 26 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown while rushing 11 times for 101 yards and a touchdown in his debut, a 31-24 win over West Virginia. While he had some struggles as a freshman, including getting sacked 22 times, he appeared poised to become one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC last season.

Three games into the season — throwing for 575 yards and five touchdowns, including leading the Hokies to a 24-3 win at Florida State in the opener — Jackson sustained a broken leg in the second half of what turned into a shocking 49-35 loss at Old Dominion. Despite speculation that he might be ready to play in the Military Bowl, Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said at the time that Jackson had not been cleared.

It isn’t clear what led to Jackson’s decision to transfer, but he was one of 13 Hokies who reportedly had put their name into the NCAA transfer portal, which allows players to explore the possibility of leaving a school while also getting their name out there to coaches who might be interested. Another Hokie, defensive end Trevon Hill, committed to Miami and has yet to sign, with speculation that he too might wind up at Maryland.

Though Jackson’s announcement won’t improve the ranking of Locksley’s first recruiting class — with the late addition of LeGendre on National Signing Day two weeks ago, the Terps moved up to 46th after being as low as 87th before Locksley’s hiring — it should certainly help attract players for the 2020 class.