Malik Jackson enjoying switch from end to 'phone booth'

Tennessee linebacker Nick Reveiz (56), cornerback Brent Brewer (17), defensive end Malik Jackson (97), and linebacker LaMarcus Thompson (42) tackle Alabama's Mark Ingram (22) during the first half action Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010 in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

Photo by Michael Patrick

Tennessee linebacker Nick Reveiz (56), cornerback Brent Brewer (17), defensive end Malik Jackson (97), and linebacker LaMarcus Thompson (42) tackle Alabama's Mark Ingram (22) during the first half action Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010 in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

Full event details »

First it was a change of school, then it was a new position.

Now Malik Jackson might truly be settling in at both.

The former Southern California end turned Tennessee edge rusher turned defensive tackle hasn't had his career pan out exactly how he might have envisioned so far, but just a couple weeks into his latest move, the junior has looked quite comfortable in his new digs. And heading to No. 17 South Carolina on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.), Jackson is building on perhaps the best all-around game he's played anywhere.

"It's going pretty good," Jackson said. "I never thought I'd like three-technique as much as I do. It's a fun position. It's pretty hard and gritty, especially with the double-teams, but other than that it's a good position.

"I feel like (defensive line) Coach Chuck (Smith) has all four of his best defensive linemen on the field at one time, so it's pretty good. It is harder though - inside it's like working in a phone booth."

Jackson hasn't exactly left the booth as Superman, but he has become perhaps the steadiest contributor up front for UT (2-5, 0-4 SEC) and certainly made a significant impact against Alabama last weekend.

He set a career high with six tackles, one of which went for a loss, and Jackson also brought a pair of drives to an end with plays on Crimson Tide quarterback Greg McElroy - first pressuring him into an incompletion and then batting a ball down before halftime to force a field goal.

"He's playing better, he really is," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "You know, he's a little light for being in there (at tackle). What is he, 265 (pounds)? If he was about 305 he'd really be playing well. But he's helping the team, he's been the most consistent up front the last few weeks.

"It's exactly what I envisioned, that's why we brought him here. We knew we had a lot of concerns up front, and that's why we were searching. He was a good answer for us. Of course, he wasn't the answer for us, but he's a good answer. I'm glad he's here."

Jackson easily could still be with the Trojans instead, though he took advantage of their probation and a rare penalty that allowed players to transfer without sitting out a season to make his first big switch this summer.

That move hasn't paid off in many wins yet for Jackson, but his other change of scenery certainly looks like it could be part of the solution against the Gamecocks (5-2, 3-2 SEC).

Dealing with more double-teams at tackle might make it a bit more difficult for him to finally break through for his first sack with the Vols, a team that desperately needs more pressure from the front four to improve a league-worst sack total of eight.

But even with his hands full in the phone booth, Jackson was still closing to getting one - and collectively UT might not be all that far off when Jackson's keeping a couple blockers busy.

"It's still a work in progress," Jackson said. "That's all we can do is just keep working, man. It's going to go our way. We're still a young team, we're just going to have to keep listening to Chuck and keep working, that's all we can really do.

"Just a few more seconds and we'll get there, but it is what it is. We've got to do better, just like everybody else has to do better on defense. It's just a group effort right now, and we have to work hard."

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 19

Bloodrunzorange writes:

Thanks Malik for giving your all for Tennessee! You are 100 percent hustle! Hang in there and GBO!!!

OrangePsyched writes:

Great attitude man. I expect to win this week just like I have every week. I will never accept losing or expect to lose. We have a lot of really good young players with great attitudes and more on the way.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

DT is a very fun position; you pop someone on every single play, and if you are lucky, you get to play a team that likes to run the ball.

If nothing else, this kid will come out of here with some valuable knowledge should he wish to coach some day.

whippersnapper writes:

The wins are coming sooner than most think.

Thanks for being a Vol Malik !

iadvol writes:

Wish Hughes would man up this year and stop acting like a baby. We need five quality DTs next year to compete. jackson Walls, Hughes, Jeffery and a top Juco would be a decent rotation. Also need to sign at least three solid HS DTs in the upcoming class.

OldVols68 writes:

But thanks most of all for leaving Lil' Lane behind at USC!

avolfan1 writes:

Malik thank you for coming to Tn and becoming a Volunteer. Just remeber I will give my all for Tennessee today! Do this every day and I guarentee it will pay off. GBO!!!

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to shen24:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

South Carolina 35 Alabubba 21

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to shen24:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say you try to stand SO tall in size 7 shoes.
Bones never lie.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say you try to stand SO tall in size 7 shoes.
Bones never lie.

Don't mess with him, Witchee. He will post how much he paid for his house!! Mwahahahahahaha

finn writes:

Jackson is a great example of what this staff has had to do just to leading up to the season. I'm awful glad we got him but it is sad when a new coach has to literally start cold calling programs just to fill a roster. Keep up the great effort, Malik!

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Don't mess with him, Witchee. He will post how much he paid for his house!! Mwahahahahahaha

Witch Doctor ask which house? the one with the Heli-pad or the one in Dubai? Witch Doctor upset taco shell stuffers make so much money! Damn you Taco Bell!
Bones never lie.

VOLliven2it writes:

Hang tough Malik and keep on plugging holes in the line. Your time will come and I believe you will have some shining days!

murrayvol writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor ask which house? the one with the Heli-pad or the one in Dubai? Witch Doctor upset taco shell stuffers make so much money! Damn you Taco Bell!
Bones never lie.

C'mon guys. Cut him some slack.

To post.."perchance to dream" and create a reality that makes a taco stuffer proud.

Mobbdeep4life writes:

in response to iadvol:

Wish Hughes would man up this year and stop acting like a baby. We need five quality DTs next year to compete. jackson Walls, Hughes, Jeffery and a top Juco would be a decent rotation. Also need to sign at least three solid HS DTs in the upcoming class.

Jeffery is a player I have wondered about since an article was written on him. I guess he still has not been able to contribute enough in practice to play in the games. I hope he can next year so he can add to the rotation.

iadvol writes:

in response to Mobbdeep4life:

Jeffery is a player I have wondered about since an article was written on him. I guess he still has not been able to contribute enough in practice to play in the games. I hope he can next year so he can add to the rotation.

Jeffery got hurt (ACL/MCL) his junior year in high school and has basically been on the shelf the most part of 24+ months. He should be a solid reserve next year and probably starts his junior year if all goes well. I wish the same for Jerrod Askew. His situation has me confused beyond belief.

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to OldVols68:

But thanks most of all for leaving Lil' Lane behind at USC!

That just shows that Malik is as intelligent as he is talented.

Maverickman writes:

Wish we had 10 more just like you

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Glad to have you, Malik!!!! I am glad that you escaped U$C,Kiff, and Mr.Take-My-Shirt-Off Orgeron.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features