Jackson was first introduced to Mountaineer fans with his 42-yard touchdown catch in the 2003 Gold-Blue game. The 6'4" Columbus, Ohio native had to sit out the 2003 season because of NCAA transfer rules, but still made a splash in that spring contest. When the spring of 2004 came around, Jackson was the subject of a lot of hype. While he still had a decent spring, it was obvious at times that he was pressing and trying too hard to make his mark in the offense. Jackson dropped his share of passes, and also had some breakdowns in downfield blocking. When the spring term ended, Jackson decided his work wasn't done.
"I stayed for both summer sessions so that I could know the offense like I know my ABC's," said Jackson following Monday's first practice of fall camp.
Spending the summer in Morgantown doesn't automatically hand Jackson a starting job, but it certainly didn't hurt his chances of seeing significant playing time when the Mountaineers open the regular season September 4 in a home affair with East Carolina.
Make no mistake about it, Jackson wants to have a memorable season for the Blue and Gold. In this offense, that doesn't necessarily mean going out and catching 40 passes.
"Blocking is probably the key for a receiver to succeed, not just in this offense, but probably in any offense," noted Jackson. That type of attitude will certainly put a smile on the face of Rodriguez, and receivers coach Steve Bird, who noted after spring drills that blocking was the most disappointing part of his receivers' play.
Jackson's situation is certainly unique, having been a top flight recruit in high school, going to junior college, ending up in the shadows of Reggie Williams at the University of Washington, then transferring across country for his final season of eligibility. Some may have a cynical view of going through all that, then having to sit out a year before being able to play just one season, but not Jackson.
"I think it benefited me. That gave me the chance to look and observe."
The six o'clock kickoff for ECU is already less than a month away, but Jackson and the Mountaineers know that there's still plenty of work to be done before they can worry about John Thompson's Pirates.
"I just want to come out here and compete and make my teammates better, and myself better," Jackson sums up as his goals for fall camp.
If he can do that, opposing defenses are going to be in for quite a headache come autumn.