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Jackson in Line for Opportunity

The last time Virginia visited Maryland, fullback Rashawn Jackson was left back in Charlottesville with a hamstring injury. Had Jackson made the trip, Mikell Simpson might not have been the featured running back. Simpson had a career performance, and the rest is history.

“Now that you mentioned it, kind of,” Jackson said. “I didn’t really realize that.”

Virginia visits Maryland again on Saturday, and it is doubtful that Simpson will play. Although Torrey Mack is the backup running back, my prediction is that Jackson receives the majority of the carries if Simpson sits out.

Jackson has been a multipurpose player for Virginia throughout his career. He started as a running back, moved to linebacker and became a fullback in 2007. He has never had more than 20 carries in a season and never more than 14 in a game. So far in 2009, Jackson has 20 carries for 113 yards – an average of 5.4 yards per carry. He also has 10 catches for 119 yards.

“The only reason he hasn’t [carried in the past] is because there’ve been other guys who could carry the ball,” Coach Al Groh said.

Jackson said he has not paid attention to whether his runs have come out of one or two-back formations, although he has been used as a single back. Jackson is more of a hybrid running back-fullback, able to do more than just clearing a path.

After Simpson was hurt in the third quarter of Saturday’s game against Indiana, Jackson received three of the next four carries. Mack will certainly be involved – Groh likes splitting Mack into the slot on offense – and Jameel Sewell and Vic Hall could also be involved in the ground attack. But if Jackson has a big game at Byrd Stadium, don’t be as surprised as people were with Simpson’s breakout performance two years ago.

By Zach Berman  |  October 16, 2009; 12:18 PM ET
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