- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Maryland’s most memorable defensive player over the past quarter-century quickly has become an afterthought.

E.J. has been replaced by D.J.

Linebacker E.J. Henderson so dominated the ACC in 2000 and 2001 that opposing quarterbacks were as endangered during blitzes as receivers crossing over the middle. Henderson was the 2001 ACC Player of the Year and two-time conference Defensive Player of the Year before being taken in the second round of the 2003 draft by Minnesota.

Just 14 games later, Terrapins middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has become the playmaker on a defense with three other pro prospects as No.23 Maryland prepares for Temple on Saturday night at Byrd Stadium. Jackson’s two interceptions led the Terps to a 23-20 victory over Northern Illinois last week and helped earn him ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors.

“I just love watching D’Qwell practice,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “He’s always in the right place at the right [time]. He might end up being just as good as E.J.”

Henderson was Maryland’s first consensus All-American in 16 years and probably second only to tackle Randy White (1972-74) as the Terps’ greatest defensive player. Jackson might be third and rising after garnering national top 10 inside linebacker ratings from preseason publications.

Jackson scored on a 58-yard interception against Florida State last year, and his 136 tackles were one short of the school record for sophomores. Two pickoffs against Northern Illinois led to 10 points, with a penalty shortening the second interception from 70 to 34 yards.

“I put more pressure on myself to make plays I’m not supposed to,” he said. “It just takes one guy to spark the defense. Everything is so much easier this year. I know what’s going on in front and behind me.”

Jackson is known to spark teammates with his passion. Flattened by running back Josh Allen during a recent drill, Jackson jumped back to the line to repeat it. Allen knew better than try to block Jackson, who capped the play by leaping onto the tackling dummy.

“It’s fun to go out and battle with him because he doesn’t like to lose,” Allen said. “He has the agility to make moves most linebackers don’t have.”

Jackson is among a handful of upperclassmen unafraid to push underperforming teammates. He’s such a perfectionist even his shoes are tied a particular way.

“When I was a younger guy, I needed someone in my corner if I messed up,” he said. “I needed someone behind me to motivate me, and that’s what I’m trying to do for the young guys.”

Jackson is eagerly awaiting the Florida State rematch. Dozens of relatives and friends saw the Largo, Fla., native score against the Seminoles in Tallahassee. Florida State comes to Byrd on Oct.30 as the only visiting team to beat Friedgen in 21 games.

“It was perfect timing for me to put on a showcase for my hometown,” Jackson said. “I can’t wait for them to come up here to put on another show.”

Notes — Kicker Nick Novak shared ACC Specialist of the Week honors with Virginia’s Alvin Pearman. Novak became the ACC’s career leading scorer (335 points) after producing 11 against Northern Illinois. … Running backs Sam Maldonado and Allen and guard C.J. Brooks were limited in practice. … The Terps will be featured on College Sports Television at 7p.m. over “Dog Days” of camp last month.

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