He directed the attack in Liberty’s spread option offense.
“I see myself as more of a running quarterback,” Acklin said. “When I’m running it, it enables us to spread the defense out and open up more options.”
Acklin said the spread option can counter a defense that may have a standout player on the edge.
“If their best player is a defensive end or linebacker, you can target that guy and limit the impact they have,” Acklin said. “If you make the right read, you can take them out of the play.”
Acklin’s dad, Darin, serves as the team’s head coach. That aspect can have its advantages most of the time, he said.
“He’ll let me call the shots out there,” Jaelon Acklin said. “Sometimes, he’ll just say, ‘Go out there and run the offense.’ He gives me a lot of room.
“I try to pitch him ideas, too. He’ll listen to a lot of them. Only about 20 percent of the time, he’ll just yell at me and call me an idiot and tell me it’s wrong.”
When teams load up to stop the Liberty ground game, Jaelon Acklin has shown he can make them pay. He threw for 21 touchdowns last season. His favorite option was James Denton, who caught 34 passes for 759 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Teams try to target Jaelon Acklin in order to slow down the Liberty offense. It hasn’t been easy for those opposing defenses. The Eagles averaged 262 rushing yards and nearly 37 points per game last season.
“A lot of times, defensive ends will just come up and try to decapitate me whether I keep (the ball) or not,” Jaelon said. “But I know there are times when I have to make the right read and pull it out.”
Jaelon Acklin credits his emergence to a spot-start at quarterback his sophomore year. Filling in for injured starter Kole Gastineau, Jaelon and the Eagles were trailing Thayer 22-0.
But behind three touchdown passes from Acklin, Liberty rallied to win 30-22. The Eagles would make an undefeated run before losing to Lamar in the state quarterfinals that season.
“That game gave me so much confidence,” Jaelon Acklin said. “I don’t think I would have had the season I had (in 2012) if not for that game.”
Getting to know Jaelon Acklin
Favorite athlete: Paul George
Favorite team: Indiana Pacers. My dad bought me an old NBA Jam game and I loved playing with Reggie Miller.
Pregame superstitions: Always wear my lucky Under Armour socks
Most disliked athlete: Chris “Birdman” Andersen
Favorite movie: The Other Guys
Favorite musical artist: Drake
Favorite actor: Will Ferrell
Favorite athletic memory: My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery the next day. We beat Houston and I had something like 45 points, threw down three dunks. That game meant a lot to me.
Song/artist on your iPod you are ashamed of: Adele
Hidden talent: I can play NBA 2K13 like it’s no one’s business. I play online and against friends. I’ve only lost one time, and that’s because I was using the Charlotte Bobcats.
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