Jackson is the strongest player on the Texas defense with a 500-pound bench press. But last year was a season to forget as the Horns' D gave up an average of 183 yards per game on the ground, including 221 yards rushing at Baylor (for the B12 title) and 216 yards vs Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.
With Jackson and Malcom Brown, Texas should have the ability to get back to 2008 and 2009 levels, when opponents averaged less than 85 yards per game on the ground. Strong's defense at Louisville last year - coordinated by Vance Bedford - had the nation's No. 1 rush defense in 2013 (giving up just 80.7 yards per game on the ground).
Jackson is the nose tackle - usually taking on double teams - when he's on the field with Malcom Brown, who is in the more disruptive role of "three-technique" (lining up on the outside shoulder of the guard, where it's harder to double team).
If Jackson has the kind of year, Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and D-line coach Chris Rumph hope he has, then Texas might have a defense that makes some noise in the Big 12.
Jackson is a great effort guy. Rumph loves coaching him.
"Tank brings it every day," Rumph said. "He hates to be wrong. He tries to do everything you teach him."
Jackson's production has to go up from last season, when Tank had 39 tackles, 5 TFLs and 2 sacks. Those numbers need to double in some instances.
And with a defensive minded coaching staff with proven results, Jackson is capable of doing that. And that's why Jackson is No. 7 on my list of players who are most important to the success of Texas in 2014.
I originally had Harrison in the top three on my list, but I moved him back a bit because I believe the Longhorns could succeed without him. They just hope they won’t have to.
And with good reason; Harrison is a monster of a tackle and could be one of the better OTs in the Big 12 if he wanted to be.
Motivation is a question mark with him we are told. And that’s something you don’t ever want to see, especially in someone going into their senior year that should be doing everything they can to further their chances of making it on Sunday’s.
From the sounds of it Harrison will start the season at right tackle because of how well he and Kent Perkins – right guard – work together. That’s quite the duo on the right side in both pass pro and run block.
If Harrison can get his act together when he comes back from his suspension, however long that will be, he could be a big reason why one or more RBs eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season.