THERE'S no "I" in EARNEST

Earnest Jackson is a big, good looking athlete. He stands 6' 3" and weights 215 pounds. In addition, he possesses 4.4 forty speed. As a quarterback at Detroit's Country Day High School, he threw for over 4,800 yards in his career and ran for an additional 1,500.

One might expect Earnest to have an ego, but this Bearcat football player is all about the team.

Coach Minter and his staff get the credit for finding and recruiting Earnest, and despite offers from both Indiana and Colorado, Earnest committed to the Bearcats at the beginning of his senior year in high school. He was all set to come to Cincinnati and be Gino's successor. That is, until Coach Minter got fired. That event triggered confusion, followed by evaluation, followed by renewed commitment according to Earnest. "After Coach Minter was fired all the recruits came to Cincinnati and were re-evaluated, and I evaluated my situation too. I liked Coach Dantonio, Coach Enos and Coach Tread(well) so I felt this was a good fit for me, even though there was a chance I wouldn't play quarterback."

The "chance" that he wouldn't play quarterback was an understatement. It didn't take long at all for Earnest to find himself at wide receiver. "It really wasn't my choice. They started me out at quarterback when I first got to summer camp, but they didn't feel quarterback was the best place for me. They moved me to receiver at Camp Higher Ground, and I've been there ever since."

Despite coming to Cincinnati to play quarterback, Earnest accepted the move to receiver and understood it was the best position for both him and his team. "It's been good. Any person who can get on the field as a true freshman has to be happy about it."

The Bearcat coaching staff certainly knew what it was doing when it mandated the position switch. Last season Earnest was fourth on the club in receptions, caught passes in seven of the last eight games, and won UC's "Newcomer of the Year" award. Not bad for a true freshman who switched positions.

Ironically, it was Earnest's experience at quarterback that helped him make the adjustment to receiver. "Since I've played quarterback, I definitely see the coverages. Plus, Coach Tread helps us with that. He says the more you see, the more you know."

Like many Bearcat football players, this guy is no dummy in the classroom. "Coach Dantonio and all the coaches impress upon us that we are student/athletes. We have to go to school to play football. As hard as we work out here, we have to work just as hard in the classroom." Earnest estimates he has a 3.3 GPA in Business/Marketing.

When asked about his personal goals for this season, Earnest made it clear that he is concerned with the team, not himself. "First and foremost, I want to win. Whatever the team needs me to do, that's what I want to do. I don't care about how many yards I get. I just want to win the ball game."

Earnest has bought completely into the idea that this group will succeed only if they remain a team. "I love the pride that everyone takes in playing. Everybody is together. I'm not playing just for myself. I'm playing for everyone on this field. That's what everyone believes."

If professional football doesn't work out for this talented receiver, I'd like to see him pursue a singing career. He has one of the deepest, richest voices I've heard, similar to the late Barry White.

The 2005 Bearcat football season is all about teamwork and believing in each other. Earnest Jackson has already figured that out because there's definitely no "I" in Earnest.


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