UVA’s leading tackler, LB Nick Jackson, tosses name into transfer portal

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Nick Jackson (Photo: UVA Athletics)

Late in the season, Tony Elliott was asked about recruiting his own locker room, and the Virginia coach immediately brought up Nick Jackson’s name.

“I recruit Nick Jackson every week,” Elliott smiled. “I tell him, ‘You’re coming back next year … you’re not going anywhere.’”

While Jackson said Monday that there’s still a chance he will return, the second-team All-ACC linebacker entered the NCAA transfer portal, along with UVA offensive lineman John Paul Flores. A total of 10 Cavaliers have announced plans to enter the portal, while three others — wide receivers Dontayvion Wicks, Billy Kemp IV and defensive back Anthony Johnson — said they intend to enter the NFL Draft.

Jackson was the heart and soul of UVA’s revamped defense under coordinator John Rudzinski, leading the Cavaliers in tackles each of the last three seasons. As a result, the senior from Atlanta was a three-time All-ACC selection, including a second-team honor for the 2022 season.

This past season, Jackson posted 104 tackles (41 solo), seven tackles for loss, five sacks, four passes defended, four QB hurries and a fumble recovery for a much-improved defense that kept UVA in most games. For his career, Jackson has 354 tackles, tied for the 11th-best total in UVA history. Across his 46-game career, including 33 starts, he has recorded 10.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss.

As a junior in 2021, Jackson led the ACC with 117 tackles.

Flores transferred to Virginia from Dartmouth, where he started his last 20 games. He immediately was plugged into UVA’s offensive line after the Cavaliers lost all of their starting linemen after the 2022 season.