It wouldn't take many games like the one Mississippi State junior Kamau Jackson had last year against arch-rival Ole Miss to put him at the top of the SEC tackle charts."> It wouldn't take many games like the one Mississippi State junior Kamau Jackson had last year against arch-rival Ole Miss to put him at the top of the SEC tackle charts.">

MSU's Jackson Would Love Another Career Game

<img src="" align="left" width="121" height="161"> It wouldn't take many games like the one Mississippi State junior Kamau Jackson had last year against arch-rival Ole Miss to put him at the top of the SEC tackle charts.

An imposing 6-1, 277-pound defensive end, from Decatur, Ga., Jackson is a lot like a one-man wrecking crew in veteran MSU Defensive Coordinator Joe Lee Dunn's alignment.

A first-team, All-American at Copiah-Lincoln Community College before transferring to Starkville, Jackson can be hard to deal with at any given time. Although he's mild-mannered and normally carries a smile on his face, Jackson is a hard-hitting defender.

"Coming out and playing together as a team and winning games," is Jackson's idea of having fun.

"We want to come out and have fun together and win games," said Jackson as the countdown to MSU's home opener at 6 p.m. Saturday against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks of the Southland Conference picked up steam.

The 2002 season didn't start out like Jackson, or any of the Bulldogs for that matter, had hoped for. The top-rated linebacker prospect in the state of Georgia as a prep star, in the view of at least one recruiting analyst, said the loss to Oregon is "no reason to hang your head" in despair.

Mississippi State's season-opening trip to Eugene, Ore. -- less its starting quarterback (Kevin Fant) -- to play the top 25-ranked Ducks, resulted in a 36-13 setback, although there were some positive things to take from the game, according to MSU's Jackie Sherrill, the Dean of the SEC coaches.

"It's good to have our home opener," said Sherrill, during a midweek press conference, adding "we're kind of anxious to get out there on the field."

He said one good thing that came out of the Oregon game was the exposure of being on national television and the experience, including playing redshirt freshman quarterback Kyle York and the "impressive" play of the first-year players.

"We've had time to grow, to look back at our mistakes, following the week off," theorized Jackson in reference to the open date the Dogs observed before this week's home debut against Jacksonville State.

"Hopefully, following the Oregon game, we have our mistakes out of the way," said Jackson. "We lost, but we played a pretty good ball club, so we just have to keep our heads up and move forward. That's (Oregon) not the end of the season. We have 11 more games during the regular season. We can still go to Atlanta (SEC Championship Game). We can still do that.

"I believe the Oregon trip, the experience of playing before a big crowd, can help prepare us for the SEC," allowed Jackson, who had four tackles and turned in a solid performance. "The stadium was loud," he noted. "If you can go into Oregon and stay focused, you can stay focused just about anywhere."

Jackson had his way in one of the final two games he played at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field last November. In his next-to-last tilt in Starkville, Jackson nearly single handily destroyed Ole Miss and highly-touted quarterback Eli Manning.

Jackson had a career-best 12 tackles in MSU's 36-28 win over Ole Miss in the Thanksgiving Night Special on ESPN. Not only did he pressure the quarterback all evening, but he kept coming up with "big play after big play" and had a tackle for a loss.

In his last three games, Jackson had a combined 22 tackles, at least one of which was for a loss in each game.

"Everyday I try to improve," acknowledged Jackson. "I know I'm not the best that I can be. I know that I can always learn.

"I'm very emotional, too. Nine times out of 10 you see me I'm going to be very loud. I'm an excited person.

"Our goal is to try to be a good defense. Instead of one man being great, we want to be a defense as a team," added Jackson, who had 135 tackles his final season at Co-Lin.

Jackson said the loss of Fant hurt the team from a mental and physical standpoint.

"It did hurt, but Kyle York stepped in and did a pretty good job for the first time out. I applaud Kyle, but now it's good to have Kevin back. He's like a father to the offense," said Jackson, who played some offense last year in short-yardage situations.

"Kevin's coming out and I believe he'll lead us in the right direction," added Jackson, who said the Dogs aren't taking anybody lightly, including Jacksonville State.

"We have to be focused; they have some good players like Reggie Stancil, a big quarterback (6-1, 255). They have great running backs, too.

Jackson said just the thought of playing before the home crowd is enough to keep him focused.

"It means so much to play at home, the walk to Davis Wade Stadium, the fans, our fellow students," said Jackson, more imposing in a stand-up position than your average player. His brother, Quatro Jones, is also planning to attend the game in Starkville, which pleases Jackson. "My brother is usually right there cheering us on."

Jackson often plays alongside defensive end Jason Clark, a Starkville Yellowjackets product, in Dunn's scheme.

"Joe Lee Dunn's the man. I love his defense. It's unbelievable. You learn something new everyday.

"I personally, want to be the best, leave it all out on the field each game," said Jackson, who has shown some signs of greatness in recent outings.

Don Foster, a veteran newspaper writer, is the Sports Editor for the Starkville Daily News. He will be writing regular feature articles for Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports and Mississippi High School sports on the internet.

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