BY DAVE LINK
Fulton football coach Jeff McMillan knows he won’t have another quarterback like Marcellus Jackson on his 2023 roster.
He might never have another quarterback like Jackson.
They don’t come along often.
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The 5-foot-9 senior used his elusive moves and sprinter’s speed – plus his arm – and compiled 3,370 offensive yards and 40 touchdowns in 2022, propelling Fulton (4-7) into the Class 4A state playoffs.
Jackson, a Mr. Football Award winner who signed with Tennessee Tech, threw for 1,885 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 1,468 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also caught a 17-yard pass.
“He was awesome,” McMillan said. “You don’t see seasons like that very often. When you throw and run like he did, you’ve got to deal with two things instead of just one on the other side.”
And Jackson did it against some of the area’s top teams.
Fulton lost to Class 4A state champion Anderson County, Class 5A state champion West and Class 6A playoff teams Bearden and Farragut.
The Falcons lost at Greeneville 45-6 in the first round of the playoffs.
“His athleticism, there were quite a few of his rushing yards were actually scrambles that he turned into huge plays,” McMillan said. “We ran him some on some zone stuff, but not a whole lot. We tried to protect him as much as we could from taking shots running the ball, things like that. When that happens, he’s usually just got to make the first one miss and everyone else is guarding the pass down the field.”
WHO’S NEXT UP?
Sophomore Javon Moulden was expected to be Jackson’s backup last season before getting a concussion in a junior-varsity game and missing about five weeks.
Next up was junior Dexter Moulden (not related to Javon), who plays basketball for Fulton and just came out for football in 2022.
Dexter Moulden is currently playing for the Falcons (29-5) as they prepare for Tuesday’s Class 3A state quarterfinal game against Volunteer (24-11).
He played in five varsity football games in 2022, completing 3 of 5 passes for minus-7 yards.
“He’s very unpolished. He hadn’t played quarterback before (last fall),” McMillan said of Dexter Moulden. “He’s a good athlete, and he ended up playing probably the whole fourth quarter at Greeneville in the playoffs when (Jackson) went down and he reeled off about a 40-, 45-yard run. He’s just now learning how to throw the ball well.”
Javon Moulden played in four varsity games last season, completing 1 of 7 passes for 17 yards.
“He’s gotten better,” McMillan said. “He throws the ball a lot better than he did as a freshman. Until you play that position on a Friday night, you handle things differently. Once you get in there and get used to it, it’s a lot different. They’ve both got a lot of growing to do.”
Neither has a lead on the starting job.
“We’ll have a wide-open quarterback competition, there’s no doubt about that,” McMillan said. “Hopefully we’ll have a ninthgrader coming in that’ll be able to compete there as well.”
AROUND THE QB
Fulton had seven seniors on last year’s team — only four played — and the Falcons’ quarterbacks will have receivers with game experience.
They include Derick Smith (28 catches, 465 yards, nine TDs), Dexter Lewis (12 catches, 251 yards, four TDs), LatavianWilson (three catches, 39 yards, one TD), and Raymond Thomas(four catches, 60 yards).
Fulton loses senior receiver Daveon Shenault (51 catches, 1,007 yards, eight TDs), who’s expected to play college ball.
The Falcons return four of five starters on the offensive linemen.
“Those guys last year up front were sophomores and hadn’t really played on Friday nights,” McMillan said. “The year before (2021) we were all seniors up front. Those guys made a lot of improvement last year, but they were really behind, not physically developed like they’re turning into right now. They’ve had a good winter so far in the weight room.”