Redshirt freshman Demetrius Jackson aims to make an impact both on and off the field. When the defensive lineman is not chasing down an opposing quarterback, he is helping kids in the community. Jackson is touring both middle and high schools in Miami-Dade County to speak to students about respect, goals and hope.
“I just want to be a role model, give these kids a brother figure to look up to,” Jackson said.
Jackson graduated from powerhouse Booker T. Washington High School in 2014. He believes that growing up in Overtown and becoming a Cane gave him the perspective and experience to relate to the students he speaks with while inspiring them to always strive for greatness.
“Kids listen to athletes,” Jackson said. “So when I started drawing young people to me just by walking through my neighborhood, I realized I could make a difference, save a life.”
The neighborhood kids Jackson is referring to were about 15 years old when he began to mentor them. Today, they are graduating high school and some are starting their first year of college. He keeps in touch with the group.
“Football teaches discipline and respect, not only for others for but for yourself,” Jackson said. “It isn’t just football though. I want these kids to work hard in whatever it is they have a passion for: art, music [or] academics.”
“D-Jack is passionate about everything he does and it influences everyone around him,” sophomore linebacker Trent Harris said.
According to sophomore linebacker Darrion Owens, Jackson is known as goofy, strong-willed and caring among his teammates.
“He knows every single person’s name in Hecht [Athletic Center], even the staff,” said redshirt junior defensive lineman Jelani Hamilton. “And he emails the entire team scriptures before every game.”
Jackson is a political science major with a minor in sociology. He wants to use his education to make a difference in the local community. He feels that there is so much he can offer this generation’s youth.
“People say you can’t touch every kid,” Jackson said. “I don’t believe that. I’ve lost a young man I mentored to the streets and there is always that fear that I won’t reach one in time.”
Jackson first spoke to Dunbar Elementary School with some of his high school teammates. His efforts have grown to include community service events, school activities and conferences, all of which other members of the team have supported and participated in.
Recently, Jackson spoke at Horace Mann Middle School, the University of Texas Black Student-Athlete Summit and a service event at Gibson Park. He is now preparing for a February conference at Booker T. Washington called Younger Brothers Listen Up. Freshman cornerback Sheldrick Redwine said Jackson has “given us guys a whole new perspective on community service.”
Jackson admits that he gets a bit overwhelmed at times, but says he keeps everything in perspective.
“I know what the bigger picture is. I know what I have to do to be a good example.”