Position: Defensive back
Size: 5-11, 167
High School: Riverdale High School
Hometown: Metairie, Louisiana
LSU, from the start, immediately took interest in Jackson’s speed. Ranked as high as No. 5 nationally by Scout for cornerbacks, Jackson’s staight-line sprinter-like speed and quickness was unmatched in Louisiana prior to his freshman season. As a five-star prospect, Jackson’s speed and athletic versatility peeked the interest of 13 others schools who eventually offered the dual-sport athlete. Prior to LSU, Jackson, a Tiger sprinter as well, clocked a time of 10.30 seconds in the 100-meter dash.
LSU coach Les Miles found a way to utilize Jackson as a speedster first. Cornerback second.
“When he first stepped on campus, he was a very nice guy that could run fast,” Miles said last season. “Now, he’s tough, hard-nosed, really capable defensive back, a guy with tremendous ball skills.”
Jackson channeled 26 tackles throughout playing all 12 games for LSU last season. The dual-sport athlete started at cornerback once last season in LSU’s 56-27 Texas Bowl win against Texas Tech. He pulled in one fumble recovery, one interception and knocked two pass-breakups.
Although the stats are finite, Jackson spent a majority of the 2015 season as the No. 2 cornerback behind Tre’Davious White, the Tigers team captain, lead defensive back and an expected first, or second, round pick in the NFL’s next draft.
As a more frequently used kick return man, Jackson strided eight kickoffs to 164 combined yards during the season. He also lined as a little-used offensive threat but carried the ball once against Auburn (Sept. 19) for 14 yards on an end-around reverse play.
Outlook for 2016-17
He’s still fast. Real fast.
His sub-4.3 40-yard dash is not fraudulent, as shown above. Jackson told the media he ran a 4.24 40-yard dash during the summer in part with the Tigers summer training regiment.
Jackson remains as the Tigers speedster and is expected to continue returning kicks, and punts, he says, and being used in different formations within Aranda’s coverage scheme.
Jackson missed the 2016 spring training due to academic ineligibility, but he’s back, as is at the core of LSU’s defensive back unit as the second starting cornerback beside Kevin Toliver.
He’s figured college out since missing spring training, he said.
“It was tough I sat down and talked to coach (Corey) Raymond and he laid it out for me,” Jackson said. “He made sure that he told me to don’t let academics to take a backseat. He told me to learn from it and I feel like I won’t make that mistake again.”
Other than senior Jalen Mills’ forced departure, LSU’s entire defensive back unit will return in 2016. White has now moved to nickelback in new-defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s 3-4 defensive scheme, bumping Jackson outside as the other primary corner as the “fastest man in college football,” the other DBs have nicknamed him.
“I’m used to it now,” Jackson said. “‘Hey, you the fastest man in college football.’ I think it’s a part of my name, when you see No. 1 you expect it to move fast and everything. Coach (Les) Miles sees me on the field, he doesn’t expect me to jog or be lagging. Same thing with (defensive back) coach (Corey) Raymond, when we was in the summer conditioning with Coach Moffitt, he didn’t expect me to be last at anything. It’s a huge weight on the shoulders, but it’s a huge weight I’m willing to carry. I’ve been the fastest on every team I’ve been on since I was young.”
You can follow Christian Boutwell on Twitter, @CBoutwell_TDR