Big 12 Media Days: Branden Jackson

Texas Tech defensive end Branden Jackson talks about his time in Lubbock culminating with his upcoming senior season, the impact coach Mike Smith has had on him, the defensive line coming together and more.

Senior strongside defensive end Branden Jackson has been on one heck of a journey as a Red Raider, going from McKeesport, Pennsylvania all the way to Lubbock, Texas.

He spoke about that journey on Monday at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.

"It's a blessing. It's really a blessing to make it to my senior year. I never imagined to be playing college football and achieving a degree and things like that, I just thank Texas Tech for the opportunity they presented me and I'm happy I was able to make the best of it."

Jackson would tell you he didn't play well last season despite putting up double-digit tackles for loss and being disruptive off the edge. His ability to play full speed every snap was a concern last season as he was adamant about not coming off the field, and admits he may have tried to do too much.

"I think last year I just wanted so bad to make every play, I refused to come off the field. My body just started wearing down. I never really had a hamstring injury, I was just battling cramps. As much as I drank Pedialyte and did everything my coaches wanted, I was literally pushing my body to the limit. It's something that coach David Gibbs talked to me about and it's something he said he's gonna change. We'll have a bigger rotation, I won't play as many plays and hopefully that will make me play a lot better."

One of the more memorable plays Jackson has made as a Red Raider came in the second half against Arizona State in the 2013 Holiday Bowl when at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, he ran down speedster QB Taylor Kelly from behind as Kelly was streaking down the hashes to try to score. Jackson still remembers the play.

"I didn't remember it when we first left the bowl game, but when we came back that year, we were breaking down film and talking about expectations, how we want to play. I saw the play and I was like, 'who is that?' And I saw that it was me. That was one of those moments where you're just lost in the moment and you're just trying to strain and do everything you can to make your team win."

Behind Jackson at strongside end is former Clarksville (TX) wide receiver Gary Moore. Texas Tech has enjoyed recent success with converting athletic receiver prospects to defensive lineman (Pete Robertson used to star at receiver for Longview), and Moore is showing some surprising flashes as he enters his redshirt sophomore year.

"He's a scary guy. He played receiver, so he has that athleticism. The only thing he's battling right now is putting on the appropriate weight, but he's actually pushing me really hard. There was a time in the spring where he was in front of me. I wasn't performing as well as I should have been and Gary started that practice. It pushed me like no other. I don't like that feeling and I don't want to let it happen again. I'm really intrigued and really looking forward to seeing how he plays this year."

It's an interesting dynamic for Jackson who is not only trying to develop and mature his backup, yet also compete with him for a starting job. Jackson attributes his ability to handle it well to defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith, and the culture he has instilled in the locker room.

"That's just all a tribute to Coach [Mike] Smith making our room a family atmosphere. As much as you want to beat your big brother, you know you want to learn from him too. That's kind of the relationship we have, I'm his big brother. I love the guy to death and I'm gonna give him all the tools he needs to be successful just because I can't get anywhere if we have another 4-8 season."

The need to groom backups for the defensive line has been a huge focus for this group as the entire starting defensive line will depart after this season. Jackson spoke more about the leadership and bonds of kinship that have developed among his position group.

"We won't be here, so we have no choice but to do what's best for the team so that we're successful. At the same time, we've become a closer-knit family. Coach Kingsbury, coach Gibbs, coach Smith have made sure we're not out there like a bunch of friends out there playing football. This is your family, these are your brothers."

Inside the Red Raiders Top Stories

\r\nSenior strongside defensive end Branden Jackson has been on one heck of a journey as a Red Raider, going from McKeesport, Pennsylvania all the way to Lubbock, Texas. \r\n

\r\nHe spoke about that journey on Monday at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.\r\n

\r\n\"It's a blessing. It's really a blessing to make it to my senior year. I never imagined to be playing college football and achieving a degree and things like that, I just thank Texas Tech for the opportunity they presented me and I'm happy I was able to make the best of it.\"\r\n

\r\nJackson would tell you he didn't play well last season despite putting up double-digit tackles for loss and being disruptive off the edge. His ability to play full speed every snap was a concern last season as he was adamant about not coming off the field, and admits he may have tried to do too much.\r\n

\r\n\"I think last year I just wanted so bad to make every play, I refused to come off the field. My body just started wearing down. I never really had a hamstring injury, I was just battling cramps. As much as I drank Pedialyte and did everything my coaches wanted, I was literally pushing my body to the limit. It's something that coach David Gibbs talked to me about and it's something he said he's gonna change. We'll have a bigger rotation, I won't play as many plays and hopefully that will make me play a lot better.\"\r\n

\r\nOne of the more memorable plays Jackson has made as a Red Raider came in the second half against Arizona State in the 2013 Holiday Bowl when at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, he ran down speedster QB Taylor Kelly from behind as Kelly was streaking down the hashes to try to score. Jackson still remembers the play.\r\n

\r\n\"I didn't remember it when we first left the bowl game, but when we came back that year, we were breaking down film and talking about expectations, how we want to play. I saw the play and I was like, 'who is that?' And I saw that it was me. That was one of those moments where you're just lost in the moment and you're just trying to strain and do everything you can to make your team win.\"\r\n

\r\nBehind Jackson at strongside end is former Clarksville (TX) wide receiver Gary Moore. Texas Tech has enjoyed recent success with converting athletic receiver prospects to defensive lineman (Pete Robertson used to star at receiver for Longview), and Moore is showing some surprising flashes as he enters his redshirt sophomore year.\r\n

\r\n\"He's a scary guy. He played receiver, so he has that athleticism. The only thing he's battling right now is putting on the appropriate weight, but he's actually pushing me really hard. There was a time in the spring where he was in front of me. I wasn't performing as well as I should have been and Gary started that practice. It pushed me like no other. I don't like that feeling and I don't want to let it happen again. I'm really intrigued and really looking forward to seeing how he plays this year.\"\r\n

\r\nIt's an interesting dynamic for Jackson who is not only trying to develop and mature his backup, yet also compete with him for a starting job. Jackson attributes his ability to handle it well to defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith, and the culture he has instilled in the locker room.\r\n

\r\n\"That's just all a tribute to Coach [Mike] Smith making our room a family atmosphere. As much as you want to beat your big brother, you know you want to learn from him too. That's kind of the relationship we have, I'm his big brother. I love the guy to death and I'm gonna give him all the tools he needs to be successful just because I can't get anywhere if we have another 4-8 season.\"\r\n

\r\nThe need to groom backups for the defensive line has been a huge focus for this group as the entire starting defensive line will depart after this season. Jackson spoke more about the leadership and bonds of kinship that have developed among his position group.\r\n

\r\n\"We won't be here, so we have no choice but to do what's best for the team so that we're successful. At the same time, we've become a closer-knit family. Coach Kingsbury, coach Gibbs, coach Smith have made sure we're not out there like a bunch of friends out there playing football. This is your family, these are your brothers.\" \r\n","mobileBody":"

#TexasTech DL Branden Jackson holding the best dressed title out here at Big 12 Media Days. pic.twitter.com/ZNtWmrxU2N

— Annabel Stephan (@AnnabelStephan) July 20, 2015
Senior strongside defensive end Branden Jackson has been on one heck of a journey as a Red Raider, going from McKeesport, Pennsylvania all the way to Lubbock, Texas.

He spoke about that journey on Monday at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.

\"It's a blessing. It's really a blessing to make it to my senior year. I never imagined to be playing college football and achieving a degree and things like that, I just thank Texas Tech for the opportunity they presented me and I'm happy I was able to make the best of it.\"

Jackson would tell you he didn't play well last season despite putting up double-digit tackles for loss and being disruptive off the edge. His ability to play full speed every snap was a concern last season as he was adamant about not coming off the field, and admits he may have tried to do too much.

\"I think last year I just wanted so bad to make every play, I refused to come off the field. My body just started wearing down. I never really had a hamstring injury, I was just battling cramps. As much as I drank Pedialyte and did everything my coaches wanted, I was literally pushing my body to the limit. It's something that coach David Gibbs talked to me about and it's something he said he's gonna change. We'll have a bigger rotation, I won't play as many plays and hopefully that will make me play a lot better.\"

One of the more memorable plays Jackson has made as a Red Raider came in the second half against Arizona State in the 2013 Holiday Bowl when at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, he ran down speedster QB Taylor Kelly from behind as Kelly was streaking down the hashes to try to score. Jackson still remembers the play.

\"I didn't remember it when we first left the bowl game, but when we came back that year, we were breaking down film and talking about expectations, how we want to play. I saw the play and I was like, 'who is that?' And I saw that it was me. That was one of those moments where you're just lost in the moment and you're just trying to strain and do everything you can to make your team win.\"

Behind Jackson at strongside end is former Clarksville (TX) wide receiver Gary Moore. Texas Tech has enjoyed recent success with converting athletic receiver prospects to defensive lineman (Pete Robertson used to star at receiver for Longview), and Moore is showing some surprising flashes as he enters his redshirt sophomore year.

\"He's a scary guy. He played receiver, so he has that athleticism. The only thing he's battling right now is putting on the appropriate weight, but he's actually pushing me really hard. There was a time in the spring where he was in front of me. I wasn't performing as well as I should have been and Gary started that practice. It pushed me like no other. I don't like that feeling and I don't want to let it happen again. I'm really intrigued and really looking forward to seeing how he plays this year.\"

It's an interesting dynamic for Jackson who is not only trying to develop and mature his backup, yet also compete with him for a starting job. Jackson attributes his ability to handle it well to defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith, and the culture he has instilled in the locker room.

\"That's just all a tribute to Coach [Mike] Smith making our room a family atmosphere. As much as you want to beat your big brother, you know you want to learn from him too. That's kind of the relationship we have, I'm his big brother. I love the guy to death and I'm gonna give him all the tools he needs to be successful just because I can't get anywhere if we have another 4-8 season.\"

The need to groom backups for the defensive line has been a huge focus for this group as the entire starting defensive line will depart after this season. Jackson spoke more about the leadership and bonds of kinship that have developed among his position group.

\"We won't be here, so we have no choice but to do what's best for the team so that we're successful. At the same time, we've become a closer-knit family. Coach Kingsbury, coach Gibbs, coach Smith have made sure we're not out there like a bunch of friends out there playing football. 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