The status of quarterback Josh Jackson with the Virginia Tech football program is seemingly up in the air.
Rumors swirled Thursday that Jackson, who started all 13 games as a redshirt freshman for the Hokies last fall, was having some academic-related issues. One local reporter said Jackson has been suspended indefinitely “pending an investigation into an academic issue.”
Without getting into specifics, Jackson’s father, longtime collegiate assistant Fred Jackson, confirmed to the Richmond Times-Dispatch that there is some uncertainty surrounding his son’s eligibility.
“As of right now, Josh is still a member of the Virginia Tech football team,” Fred Jackson said Thursday by phone. “We’ll know more in two days. It’s too early to talk about this.”
Fred Jackson, 67, who spent 35 years in college coaching, including 22 at Michigan, said he’s aware of social media posts claiming that his son is no longer on the team, but said that as of Thursday morning, those reports are not correct.
Virginia Tech has not commented on the situation as of Thursday afternoon.
Josh Jackson is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the ACC
If Jackson is indeed ineligible, it would be a huge hit for the Hokies, perennial contenders in the ACC Coastal.
As a redshirt freshman in 2017, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Jackson threw for 2,991 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions and added 324 yards and six scores on the ground. He led the team to a 9-4 record that culminated with a loss to Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl.
He has a ton of talent, but struggled with his accuracy, completing just 59 percent of his passes. Still, he has the tools to become one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC.
The depth chart is unproven behind Jackson
Behind Jackson, the Hokies have three main options if Jackson cannot play: Kansas transfer Ryan Willis, redshirt freshman Hendon Hooker and true freshman Quincy Patterson.
Willis, who sat out the 2017 season, was Kansas’ primary starter in 2015 before splitting time with two others for the Jayhawks in 2016. In 16 games (10 starts), Willis threw for 2,530 yards, 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions during that span.
Hooker, a three-star recruit in the 2017 class, redshirted his first season with the Hokies after competing with Jackson for the starting job last fall.
During spring practice, Hokies coach Justin Fuente, perhaps as a motivational tool, would not definitively say Jackson was the starter. That gave Willis and Hooker the chance for additional reps — reps that could pay dividends if Jackson can’t play.
The wild card in the situation is Patterson, a four-star recruit who will arrive on campus later this summer.
Whoever is under center will have a challenge in Week 1 when the Hokies open the 2018 season at Florida State.
It’s been a tough offseason for Virginia Tech
The speculation about Jackson comes a few days after the Hokies lost two of their cornerbacks. Adonis Alexander, ruled academically ineligible, will put his name into the NFL’s supplemental draft while junior college transfer Jeremy Webb, a potential starter, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury during a workout.
Back in April, one of Fuente’s top assistants, co-defensive coordinator Galen Scott, announced his resignation after it was revealed he was involved in an extramarital affair on recruiting trips.
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