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Jackson has been a leader for Terps

November 20, 2005|By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - D'Qwell Jackson doesn't believe in taking an easy way out.

He never has and he never will.

"I've been doing it that way since I was 7 years old," the University of Maryland All-American linebacker said. "That's what I was taught. To leave everything out on the field each and every week and also during practice."

On Saturday, Maryland fans will witness Jackson's tenacity for the last time at Byrd Stadium as he takes the field for Senior Day against Boston College. It will be the ending of the latest stellar career by a Terrapins defensive player, but coach Ralph Friedgen would rather think of it as the starting point example of how the game should be played.

"The best thing that describes him is his consistency," Friedgen said. "I don't ever remember D'Qwell having a really bad game. He plays good everytime he goes out there. He's not only a very good football player and a fierce competitor, but he's a heck of a kid. He has tremendous leadership qualities. I don't think there is a kid on the team that doesn't like D'Qwell and doesn't respect him."

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Jackson will be one of 15 seniors - a list which includes Williamport's Ryan McDonald, the starting center - heading out on Byrd for the last time.

What he brought to the Terps defense since he was put in as a starter as a sophomore is beyond measurement.

"When I think of D'Qwell, I think of a lion," Maryland defensive back Milton Harris said. "When he talks, everybody listens. He lets is game speak for itself. When you see how hard he plays on every snap, you have to respect him. He puts it on the line and gives it his all on every play."

Jackson has so much still ahead, including an NFL career, but he isn't thinking that far just yet.

"Just being in college and earning a degree, a lot of people form my neighborhood can't say that," Jackson said. "And to have a chance to play at the next level, well, whatever comes my way, I will deal with it.

"You will never get this college life back. Just being around with a bunch of guys your age in this type of atmosphere. It's crazy how fast time moves. I cam in with a good group of guys and this Saturday will be the last time a lot of us will play together (at home)."

While the mixed emotions of finishing his career with his boys weighs on Jackson, the idea of leaving Maryland's football program in a better state than when he entered it would be a bigger part of a dominating legacy.

He has the numerical marks to get notices, especially since he leads all Atlantic Coast Conference and is among the nation's leaders in tackles. But his numbers and future plans aren't driving him down the stretch of his career.

"To finish off on a good note would be great for the young guys," Jackson said. "If we can get to a bowl game, it carries over."

It might be a little selfish, but Jackson has a very good reason to continue to give it his all to the very end. He wants to keep Maryland in the national forefront.

"It will be great to come back here on a Thursday night or Saturday night and see the team play on the national stage. Even when I leave here, these guys will be on my mind.

"I'm a Terp for life."

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