Editor’s Note: We’re going to be releasing a series of profiles on key Villanova Wildcats recruiting targets over the next 1-2 weeks.
Name: Mateo Jackson
Height/Weight: 6’2” 215 lbs.
Hometown/HS: Richmond, Va. | Hermitage
His Game: Jackson is a tall linebacker at 6’2”, and he has a great frame to put on additional weight. Watching his highlight clips, he possesses a ton of raw power. He repeatedly blows up would-be blockers, and then finishes the play himself.
Perhaps what stands out the most is his ball-recognition and vision when diagnosing read-option plays. He’s very good in traffic as well, and if he does get engaged, he uses his hands well to fight off blocks.
He finishes his tackles extremely well for a guy who probably could get away with just laying big hits at the high school level. He sticks, wraps and puts his man down.
How He Fits: Villanova’s ‘Mayhem’ defense really makes the linebackers the stars of the system. Don Cherry and Austin Calitro are both in the NFL having thrived in the system, and Ed Shockley looks like another potential All-American this year. Though all play a bit of a different style, the link between them was an excellent football brain. Jackson has that going for him as well.
Because Villanova has played three down-lineman in the past (although with Billy Crocker gone things may change), they rely heavily on the linebackers to fill additional gaps and put pressure on the offensive line. With help from the secondary, those blitzes seem to come from anywhere, create confusion, and allow for potential big plays on defense.
Villanova’s run-defense has been excellent in large part thanks to the defensive line, but it’s the linebackers that are often free blow up plays in the backfield. Jackson is a great fit as a run-stopping linebacker.
Jackson excels on the blitz and delayed blitz once he diagnoses a play. He’s a TFL machine and would thrive in a system that allows the linebackers to cause as much havoc as Villanova’s does.