Jackson Not Happy With His Performance

Senior defensive back Preston Jackson has seen action since his second year as a cornerback and special teams player. The 5-9, 177 pound Jackson is a key member of the nickel-back rotation. He is tough and quick and has been credited with 20 tackles so far this year. We caught up with the Tampa, Florida, native after practice this week and talked with him about the upcoming game with Florida State and his performance this season.

Preston began by saying, "We're really upbeat and very excited about this weekend. We're playing a great team with good athletes and we're excited about bouncing back and turning our season around; get a good springboard for the rest of the season."

Having the Florida connection, we asked Preston if this game had any special meaning for him and he replied, "Not really. The only real meaning it has is they're a good team and we like to beat good teams. That's why you come to Notre Dame because you are going to play top competition, and that's what we're doing this weekend."

Our next question for Preston was a "gimmie" - do you have any friends on the Florida State team and do you stay in touch with them. He smiled and stated, "There are some players that I played with in all-star games and guys I played against in high school. It will be nice seeing them again and being in action at the same time. But it will be a war on the field and after the game we'll shake hands and go our way. We check with each other on and off to see how it's going. That's part of being competitors and friendly competition. We check to see what our friends are doing and what-not."

During his senior year in high school, Preston was recruited by several big-time programs including the Irish and Florida State, and we were curious as to why he chose Notre Dame. He responded, "My family and I thought Notre Dame had the best athletics and academics so we put them both together and thought this was probably the best decision. We are satisfied with what we did."

We also wondered if other coaches used the less than tropical weather conditions of South Bend as a negative in recruiting and Preston laughed and said, "Yes. But you just cope with it. You just wear a couple pair of socks and gloves and go play ball."

Jackson has played against some highly touted receivers and, with that experience, we asked for his opinion of our receivers as he goes up against them daily. "Our receivers are good - they're not great yet - they're good and they're getting better. You can see that every day in practice. In the game, they show a lot of heart and with the combination of Brady and Carlyle behind the center, I don't think they can do anything but get better," he enthusiastically replied.

We mentioned earlier that Preston has recorded 20 tackles so far this season. He is often at a disadvantage as he takes on much bigger opponents and we asked him about this part of his game, "I take a lot of pride in tackling. It's part of the game. You need to make tackles because, as a defensive back, you are almost the last line of defense. Just like anyone else, you need to make tackles to stop touchdowns and to stop drives."

When you play as a cornerback, there isn't any place to hide and the fans are quick to judge the player's performance. With this in mind, we asked Jackson to rate his performance this year and without hesitation he stated, "I rate my performance as mediocre. I feel like I need to make more big plays. I feel like I haven't made any. To tell you the truth, I need to step up a little bit more and play a little bit better."

When we talk with senior players, we are always curious about their leadership role and style so we asked Preston to describe his style. "I am very verbal and I try to lead by action. Sometimes you need a cheerleader within your team, and I like to get my guys riled up and excited about playing the next game and excited about practice every day. But I lead by action also - by aggression on the field and my passion for the game all the time." He also told us he does trash talk, "when it's needed. Sometimes you get in a mood and it just comes over you. You just have conversations with the receivers all the game and that makes the game a lot of fun."

Although he is a senior Preston does have another year of eligibility. We asked if he plans to return next year and he responded immediately, "I am going to apply for a fifth year."

Let's hope this is the game that Jackson steps up and makes the big plays that he feels he needs to do, as they could be factors in the Irish victory and give him some bragging rights over his Florida State buddies.

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