Q&A with Jonathan Jackson

Oklahoma junior defensive end Jonathan Jackson celebrates a tackle during the Sooners' Rose Bowl win over Washington State. The Houston native talked with OUInsider.com last week about his offseason progress and OU's defense in 2003. (Photo by Getty Images)

NORMAN, Okla. — No player was more impressive during the Sooners' Rose Bowl win over Washington State than defensive end Jonathan Jackson.

The Rose Bowl was easily Jackson's best performance of the season, but what many people didn't know was that it was the first time Jackson had been 100 percent healthy after suffering a deep bruise on his right knee. But Jackson fought through it and managed to have a solid season, which was capped by his five tackle, two sack, two forced fumbles performance in the Rose Bowl.

Jackson was fully healthy then, and the sky is the limit as far as what he can do if healthy for an entire season. OUInsider.com writer James Hale talked to Jackson last week about his health, his offseason progress in the weight room and OU's defense in 2003.

JH: It seems like every offseason your goal is to add weight, and every year you seem to do that. Has this been your most successful offseason in that respect?

JJ: "I believe I'm the strongest and heaviest I've ever been, and I still believe I'm at the same speed. So, you could say I've made some improvements this summer."

JH: You've never had a problem with speed, so basically are your summer workouts based on adding muscle while maintaining your speed?

JJ: "The strength coach's goal is to increase your size, speed and strength. If you have all three, you can't really be beat. So their main goal this summer has been to push size, speed and strength on us."

JH: You were finally 100 percent healthy for the first time last year in the Rose Bowl and you dominated. Do you look at that tape and say, ‘That's going to be me all year this season.'?

JJ: "I think anybody who has confidence on the field can play at a certain level. I was pretty banged up throughout the season with different injuries, but I had a chance to get healthy and play up to full speed in the Rose Bowl. I think I'll have a pretty good season this year."

JH: You also have to take pride in the fact that even though you were banged up last year you still managed to play in every game and play every down. That had to earn you some respect from your teammates didn't it?

JJ: "That's what I'm here for. It would be hard on me to let the other guys on the team down and myself, because we're out there everyday fighting for the same cause. So, I'm playing for them."

JH: This defense looks really good on paper. How good will it be when you guys take the field?

JJ: That's yet to be seen. Like you said, it looks good on paper. Everybody thinks we have the potential to be a great defense, but you've got to go out there and play."

JH: How good of a pass-rushing front four can you guys be this year?

JJ: "I believe we can be a great one. We have all the key athletes in place to do so and great coaches. But it still remains to be seen though this year what we can do."

JH: Do you pay any attention to any of the preseason polls? Or do you just let that stuff go by?

JJ: "I really don't pay too much attention to it. My grandfather reads it so I don't have to."

JH: How are the summer workouts going? Is this team together and ready to go?

JJ: "Oh yeah. We're finishing up here going full stride getting ready for two-a-days. We're doing great right now and getting ready for a good season."

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