New Vol Jackson speaks

Friday afternoon the press had the first opportunity to speak to Southern Cal transfer Malik Jackson. Read what the new Volunteer had to say about his departure from USC and his new home on Rocky Top.

Southern Cal transfer Malik Jackson had a chance to address the media for the first time since arriving on Rocky Top following Friday afternoon's practice.

Jackson was moved up to the veterans' practice following an injury to defensive end Ben Martin on Thursday.

The new Volunteer is excited about the opportunity in front of him.

"I am happy I am going to have the opportunity to play in the SEC," Jackson said.

Jackson is a junior in college and despite his experience he still participated with the rookies in his first two practices, but he said he has to work his way up.

"I knew I had to start at the bottom," Jackson said. "I understood that I had to work from the bottom up, so it wasn't anything big to me."

Jackson toiled over his decision to leave the southern California sunshine, but in the end felt the Volunteers were the best choice for him.

"I talked to my mom about it, my dad and my brother," Jackson said. "We all decided it was going to be the best decision for me. I talked to my mom and she said, ‘Do it.' "

Defensive line coach Chuck Smith was definitely a draw for the former Trojan. Jackson is excited about what his new coach has to offer.

"Chuck is a good guy," Jackson said. "He has a lot to offer. That is also one of the reasons I came here. He is a smart guy and knows pass rush. He gets a lot of guys in the league and I want to be one of them."

While Smith might be excited to have Jackson, his former position coach wasn't so excited to see the departure. It was rumored that current USC assistant coach Ed Orgeron needled Jackson over his decision to leave the Trojans. Jackson confirmed that Friday afternoon.

"He just said it wasn't going to be a good choice for me," Jackson said."He said I wasn't going to play here. He said, 'I recruited those guys, they are way better,' but, whatever, I knew it wasn't going to be a cakewalk especially in the SEC."

Jackson said Orgeron's comments only solidified the fact that he didn't want to return to Trojan town.

"It really told me that I wasn't going to go back to SC," Jackson said. "After hearing that I just said, ‘Hey, I am going to go to the SEC, to Tennessee and start."

Having worked two days with the rookies Jackson did have an opportunity to witness two young Volunteers, and by all accounts Jackson said Tennessee fans should be looking forward to watching Jacques Smith and Corey Miller.

"Those are great young guys," Jackson said. "They are going to be great players. I am happy to come in and being an older guy I get to help out as much as I can. They are going to be really good."

While Jackson has only been practicing for a few days, he already feels comfortable with the Tennessee playbook.

"I am pretty comfortable," he said. "It is all the same thing, just different names. All in all it is pretty much the same thing. I just have to get used to learning both positions and I will be good."

While the new Volunteer might be comfortable with the playbook, there is one thing that he is definitely not comfortable with on the opposite coast.

"This heat is horrible. It's so humid and it takes a while to get used to, but I don't like it," Jackson said with a smile.


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