Iowa football gets Virginia LB Nick Jackson from the transfer portal. Here's the impact.
On Wednesday, Iowa football added one more piece to its team during the early NCAA transfer window; and it’s at a position of need.
Virginia linebacker Nick Jackson announced his decision to transfer to the Hawkeyes over Oklahoma. He will graduate this spring and join Iowa in the summer as a graduate transfer. He's regarded as a four-star transfer portal player according to 247 Sports.
Jackson, a middle linebacker listed at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, was a four-year contributor and three-year starter at Virginia, where he accumulated 352 total tackles including 100-plus tackles in each of the last three seasons. His 2022 season was his best to-date with 103 tackles, five sacks and four pass deflections. He is entering Iowa's program with three all-ACC selection honors.
Jackson is the seventh transfer portal addition for the Hawkeyes and the first defensive player. The next available window for players to enter into the NCAA transfer portal is May 1-15 at the conclusion of teams' spring practice periods.
How does Nick Jackson's commitment impact Iowa's defense?
While the majority of the focus concerning Iowa's transfer portal activity has been on offense, Jackson is one of the most impactful additions to Iowa's team.
No position lost more production than linebacker as all three Hawkeye starters from last season - Seth Benson (NFL Draft), Jack Campbell (NFL Draft) and Jestin Jacobs (transfer to Oregon) - are departed. The Hawkeye defense has expectations to remain elite next season but linebacker was the only question mark.
Iowa has one clear starter at linebacker next season in rising senior Jay Higgins, who impressed last season replacing Jacobs. However, besides him there's very little in-game experience; Higgins and fellow senior Kyler Fisher are the only upperclassmen in the linebacker room. Fisher, a strong special teams contributor, will be in the mix at outside linebacker (Leo) but the Hawkeyes desperately needed a proven college product to fortify the position group.
Jackson will pair nicely with Higgins at Iowa's main two linebackers (in its base 4-2-5 look), which leaves the outside linebacker position still in question. Spring practice will be big with Jackson not arriving till summer. Last year's practice period saw Higgins ascend while starters were out with injury. There will be opportunities for the younger linebackers to impress position coach Seth Wallace and stake their claim for playing time in the fall.
Last season, Wallace expressed excitement about what the next, young croup of linebackers could contribute to the defense in 2023.
"(The young linebackers) are a great group of guys," Wallace said last October. "Guys that are eager and itching to do whatever they can special teams wise because what they've seen is that pattern exists over the last however many years since I've taken over (as) coach. Guys are paying their dues. Then when their numbers are called on, you hope that they can go out there and have less anxiety than maybe somebody that's just thrown out there."