Jackson Signs Contract With Rams

FAYETTEVILLE — All Keith Jackson Jr. wanted in April was to hear his name called during the NFL Draft.

The former Arkansas defensive tackle had to wait longer than he had hoped. But after hearing that the St. Louis Rams had selected him toward the end of the seventh round, Jackson admitted that he was looking forward to proving himself.

The Little Rock native will get that opportunity.

Jackson signed a three-year contract with the Rams on Monday. Terms were not disclosed, but the contract improves his chances of making an NFL roster on Opening Day — as he had predicted on the day he was drafted.

"Now that I've signed, all that I'm focused on is being ready and focused for training camp and making that 53-man roster," Jackson said. "This was a great opportunity for me to sign my first NFL contract, and it's kind of an overwhelming feeling."

Jackson said he was in Little Rock at his mother's house when he received an offer he couldn't refuse. He signed a contract the Rams faxed to him and sent it back.

By agreeing to a contract, Jackson follows in the footsteps of his famous father. Keith Jackson Sr., who serves as the color commentator for Arkansas football games, starred as a tight end in the NFL from 1988-1996.

Though he started 28 games for the Razorbacks, the younger Jackson wasn't drafted until the seventh round because of concerns that he was too small to play defensive tackle in the NFL. He stands 6-foot and weighs 305 pounds.

Still, Jackson recorded 79 tackles as a senior to go along with 2 1/2 sacks and two interceptions — including one he returned 69 yards for a touchdown in a 63-7 win over Southeast Missouri State on Oct. 14.

"I got with a good team that really needs some depth on the defensive front and it's going to be a great thing to play with the St. Louis Rams," Jackson said in April.

Jackson is the first of the four Arkansas players who were selected in April's draft to sign with his respective team.

Defensive end Jamaal Anderson and cornerback Chris Houston have not yet come to terms with the Atlanta Falcons, which used two of their first three draft picks on former Razorbacks.

Anderson was taken with the eighth overall selection, and the Falcons drafted Houston with their second pick in the second round — No. 41 overall.

Offensive tackle Tony Ugoh, who was picked one spot after Houston in the second round by the Indianapolis Colts, is still unsigned.

The Morning News' Ryan Malashock contributed to this report.

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