Freshman RB Jackson understanding change

Coming in to spring practice, red shirt freshman running back R. J. Jackson already has learned some valuable lessons about college football.

No position is safe and everything can change in the blink of an eye.


These lessons came after Jackson witnessed the 2005 season of Alley Broussard end before LSU played its first game.  Broussard suffered a season ending knee injury in fall camp, an ailment that Broussard continues to heal.


Jackson also watched as Justin Vincent tore his ACL against the University of Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.  Like Broussard, Vincent has been spending most of spring practice healing his knee.


Because of these two injuries, much of the workload for the running backs has fallen on the shoulders of Jackson and junior Jacob Hester.


Even with spending most of his time with the first teamers, Jackson has not felt any added pressure.  Instead, he is soaking in the experience of his first spring camp.


"I'm just trying to fit into my role right now," Jackson said.  "Take it one day at a time, learn the offense, and try to contribute to the team."


Jackson added that while he wants to make a strong impression during practice, he has tried not to take himself too serious.  He simply wants to go out there everyday, play the game he loves, and have fun.


That laid-back approach could change, though, if Jackson's responsibility to the offense continues to grow.  LSU head coach Les Miles said he's been impressed with the progress Jackson has made thus far in practice.


"R.J. is a very bright guy and very talented," Miles said. "Quick feet, good hands, quality speed. He's really just coming of age in the offense and understanding what we expect of him."


Miles added that if Broussard and Vincent are not fully healed by the start of the 2006 season, he would have no difficulty putting Jackson in the starting role.


"Everything that I've seen this spring would give me confidence in him," Miles said.


That vote of confidence from his coach has given Jackson an even stronger belief that he could lead in the backfield next season.


"For [Miles] to say that, it boosts my confidence so much," Jackson said.


Jackson signed with LSU in 2005 as one of the hottest recruits in the country.  His name appeared on numerous top recruiting lists after his career at Westside High School in Houston, where his jersey was retired following his senior year.


In high school, Jackson rushed for over 1,000 yards his junior year and nabbed six interceptions at the defensive back position in the same season.


These high school numbers mean nothing at the collegiate level, and Jackson knows that in order to see similar success at LSU, he needs to stay focused in practice. In the first three weeks of the spring, Jackson has begun to see a difference in his physical and mental approach to the game.


"I've noticed a tremendous change since I came in as a freshman last fall," he said.


Yet, Jackson admits there are still some areas that he can improve upon.  Jackson said he feels pleased with his overall performance during the practices, but wants to polish his game.


"I'm still trying to learn and pick up on some little, minor things," he said. "I have a basic concept about the offense and my role."


Jackson has found some additional help from the very same teammates he's replaced this spring. Jackson said Broussard and Vincent have coached the freshman from the sidelines and shared their game experiences.


"It's one thing to learn it from a coach, but then to actually have a football player that has had some experience in the game time situations and is still there teaching you, that's a blessing," Jackson said. "It helps the transition go a lot smoother."


With the uncertainties about the health of the Tiger's veteran backs, a smooth transition for Jackson could become vital for the success of next year's team. As last season proved, unpredictable injuries can pop up at any second and force second stringers to make a big impact.


Although the idea has lingered in Jackson's mind, he said he tries not to let the thought of injuries consume his attention on and off the field. Rather, Jackson just assumes he will be the leading man when the fall rolls around, and practices with the intensity a starter should have.


"I just go out everyday and practice as though I'm starting," he said.


Using this approach, Jackson continues to impress his coaches and improve his playing with an attitude extending beyond the level of a freshman.


"I just take it one day at a time and try to get better everyday and everywhere," Jackson said.

Tiger Blitz Top Stories