Terrell Jackson, a 5-10 196-pounder from Puckett, MS, never did really get the feel of cornerback, even though he played some as a backup in games and was "getting better."
In February, when he was told he would move to free safety, he was elated.
"I feel comfortable at free safety and never really did at corner," said Terrell. "I wanted to do like I did in high school - play downhill and hit someone - and I never had the necessary patience at cornerback.
"At free safety, I get to see the whole field and I'm able to use what I do best - hitting - at that position. I believe I'm a physical player who can make big plays and free safety gives you that opportunity."
Jackson is still adjusting to the position, but he says he's getting there. In spring, he ended up number two on the depth chart behind converted Wide Receiver Kendrick Lewis, who made a remarkable switch from offense to defense.
"There is a lot to learn. It's more mental than physical," he said. "We have a lot of assignments depending on the defensive call and it's very important to be where you are supposed to be at all times," he said. "You are the last line of defense in a lot of cases and if you are out of position the defense has major problems."
The last three years, Charles Clark has handled the free safety slot. He was the quarterback of the defense and always put different players in the right positions based on the defensive calls. He was one of the best in doing that.
Terrell understands the importance of that chore for whoever is playing free safety.
"Basically, the free safety has to know what every position is supposed to be doing. I have to know what the strong safety and both corners are doing and make my calls accordingly," he explained. "If something is going wrong, we have to be able to recognize the problem and fix it.
"Having played corner for a long time, I know corner like the back of my hand and have been able to adjust them, but I'm learning what the linebackers and DL is doing."
Terrell said he's got one hurdle to clear in order to become a free safety the coaches trust and possibly even the starter.
"I have to be more consistent, play-in and play-out. You can't have a big play here and a bust there. You just have to be consistent, not flashy, and when the big plays come your way, make them," he noted, "but the main thing is to play within in the system and do your job on every play. That was what Charles was so good at. He wasn't flashy, but he was where he was supposed to be on every snap and made a lot of routine plays that prevented big gains that were not headline plays.
"Consistency is my key. If I am consistent, I will gain the trust of the coaches to perform in games. Sometimes I'm thinking too much and forget to do my job."
Jackson believes free safety should be a strong position once he and Kendrick learn more about the position.
"We are getting more and more confidence with each passing day. By the time the season rolls around, we will be a good tandem, I feel," said Terrell.
Terrell says he's got his body in good shape.
"I'm getting stronger and my weight is right where I want it. I feel I have gotten faster too," he said. "I'm doing all I can to get ready for August and the 2007 season and I believe I am on the right track physically. Now if I can just get the mental part down, I will help the team a lot."
Jackson is one of the Rebs' top returning special teams players and will remain a vital part of coverage and return teams.
"That's where you can really turn loose and hit someone," he grinned. "I will always have that and I love it, but now I have to bridle the mental part of FS and I'll be fine."
Terrell Jackson update
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