“I want to be the person that says ‘hey, if you work hard and you play hard, then good things will follow you.'”
Eugene, OR- It’s about that time! Kick off is just over a week away and I cannot be more excited. As you probably know by now, Oregon’s practices are CLOSED and very top secret. We’re talking no peaking through bushes and no trying to stand on ladders to look over the huge trees/brush circling the newly renovated practice field (trust me, I’ve thought about it). Each day I head to congregate with the media corps outside the CLOSED practice, I walk by the gate surrounding the field where there happens to be a slight view of the turf. Even that spot has a barrier around it to keep wanna be spectators from positioning themselves in just the right angle to possibly catch a glimpse. You catch my drift. So, what’s a girl to do when all the juicy football questions that are going to be answered have been asked? She gets personal. Honestly, it’s more fun anyway. Enter Defensive Back, Brian Jackson.
I know, I know. We all love to hear about Mariota, DAT and all the other offensive play makers. It’s easier to follow what they do. I get it. But here’s why defensive backs are important: They tackle receivers- the guys who score a lot! The PAC-12 is full of amazing receivers and Jackson is ready to get after them. Read on. You need to know this guy because you’ll be hearing his name A LOT.
I recently sat down with Jackson to discuss the upcoming season, his family, hobbies, staying grounded, and much more. Like so many of the players I’ve talked to, I couldn’t help notice just how articulate, friendly and open he was- making me all the more excited to cheer for him on game day.
Jackson, an Alabama native, enters this year as a Senior, having spent the past 4 years learning from some of the best defensive players in the country. Last year, he had a tremendous season and in the process, made a big name for himself. Jackson now finds himself in a leadership role-one that he embraces. When asked which teammate he’s learned the most from, instead of naming an older player, Jackson talked about learning the most from the younger guys now looking up to him. “I remember back when that was me. And the only thing I really wanted from the older guys was for them to show me how they do things. What do you do? Are you good at what you do? Are you a good person in and out of this? Having been in their shoes, Jackson feels responsible to leave them a legacy, making sure they’re ready to carry the program on in the right direction. “I want to be the person that says ‘hey, if you work hard and you play hard, then good things will follow you.'”
Of coarse, part of leaving a good legacy means doing the right thing both on and off the field. I asked Jackson if he found it difficult to be a good example while being an athlete at this level. Jackson humbly told me it wasn’t terribly hard, while crediting his father for teaching him that “If you’re always doing the right thing, you got nothing to worry about”. In terms of the media attention and pressure at this level, Jackson explained if someone’s giving him attention, he must be doing something right. But don’t think he’s letting it go to his head. “I’ll embrace it for what it is, but I’m not going to let it change who I am. I got here for a reason. We all became good for a reason because we worked hard. We’re not just going to let some attention take that away and make us soft. That’s the worst way to handle that attention.”
So while working hard to set a good example, what does Jackson do off the field? Well, as he puts it, he’s “kind of home body”. These days, Jackson, like many of his teammates, enjoys spending his down time chatting with friends on the internet or over X-Box Live. He explained that keeping in touch with friends back in Alabama, along with daily conversations with his brother, helps keep him grounded while also relieving some occasional homesickness. To also help fill the void of being so far from home, Jackson spends a lot of time outdoors with his dog, a German Shepard/Rottweiler mix, mainly hiking. Like his Teammate, De’Anthony Thomas, Jackson also enjoys fishing, but unfortunately he left his fishing equipment in Alabama. If you’re surprised about these guys finding time to fish, don’t worry, so was I. I asked Jackson how his teammates find time to fish. His response definitely earned a chuckle. “To be good at fishing, you gotta be real patient, and then when you have time on your hands all you wanna do is sit down and relax, so you might as well catch a couple fish while you’re at it”.
With the season opener just 6 days away, the fisherman of the bunch may need to put those poles in the closet for a while. As for Jackson, he’s ready to get out there and see the results of the team’s hard work. He knows Defensive Coordinator, Nick Allioti is looking for a bit more intensity from the defense, but Jackson was quick to tell me, “We’ll be fine. He has nothing to worry about”.
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