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App State’s Jackson Drafted By NFL’s New Orleans Saints
D'Marco Jackson becomes the fourth player drafted by an NFL team in the last three seasons.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State’s Jackson Drafted by NFL’s New Orleans Saints

An App State Football alum has been selected in the NFL Draft for the fourth time in the last three years.

The New Orleans Saints picked D’Marco Jackson in the fifth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday, using the 161st overall selection on the 6-foot-1, 235-pound inside linebacker.

The Mountaineers are one of only two Sun Belt programs with a draft pick in each of the last three years, as Jackson follows Shemar Jean-Charles (2021), Akeem Davis-Gaither (2020) and Darrynton Evans (2020) as App State selections since head coach Shawn Clark took over the program during the 2019 postseason.

A leading tackler at the Reese’s Senior Bowl and impressive performer at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jackson received All-America recognition from PFN (second team), Phil Steele and PFF College following a 2021 season in which he was also named the Sun Belt Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.

In his final year with an App State team that won 10 regular season games and captured a Sun Belt East Division title, the versatile Jackson became the only FBS player in the 2000s with a season including at least 120 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, six sacks and six passes defended. He emerged as one of the nation’s most productive defenders as an App State graduate who was also pursuing a master’s degree in business administration while enrolled in the Walker College of Business.

That standout senior season came after he was the only FBS player in 2020 with at least 90 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and eight passes defended. He was the only FBS player with more than 200 tackles and 25 tackles for loss in the 2020 and 2021 seasons combined.

A native of Spartanburg, S.C., Jackson totaled 296 tackles, 34.0 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, three interceptions, 14 PBUs, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and one touchdown (on the return of a blocked punt) in his App State career. He played in 53 career games with 32 starts, including 29 straight to end his career, and helped the Mountaineers go 43-10 with two Sun Belt championships and three bowl wins during his four years as an on-field contributor.

Throughout his career, even as a two-year starter at inside linebacker, Jackson excelled on numerous special teams units. He totaled more than 650 special teams reps for the Mountaineers, contributing on the coverage and return units for punts and kickoffs.

Jackson is the 31st different App State alum to be selected in the NFL Draft, dating back to 1942. He is the fifth App State linebacker to be drafted, a list that includes current Cincinnati Bengal Akeem Davis-Gaither as well as former pros Dino Hackett, Dexter Coakley and D.J. Smith.