PI Exclusive: Interview with Rashawn Jackson

Rashawn Jackson fell through the cracks in the draft and right into Carolina's lap. Now, the bulldozing rookie is hard at work trying to replace fan favorite Brad Hoover. In between workouts, Jackson found time to go one-on-one with PantherInsider.com.

Rashawn Jackson established himself as one of the country's best lead-blockers during his three-year career at Virginia. His role expanded last season thanks to injuries to his backfield mates and Jackson responded by carrying 96 times for 461 yards and catching 25 balls for 225 yards.

In Carolina, Jackson will return to his bulldozing roots and try to clear running lanes for DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. If he can do that -- and dominate on special teams -- he'll beat the odds and win a roster spot as an undrafted free agent.

LaShana Marshburn: What did you do during the NFL Draft?

Rashawn Jackson: I really didn't watch the draft. My dad had a BBQ because I was home and he wanted to get us all together. He was in the living room watching it. I was in the backyard playing cards and hanging out. It was a little nerve-racking. I started getting calls in the fourth and fifth rounds and thought, "this one could be the call." To limit myself from any anxiety, I just wanted to distance myself from the TV.

LM: What prompted you to sign with the Panthers?

RJ: I chose to sign with the Panthers because I felt it was the best opportunity for me. There were other teams that showed some interest but I wasn't sure if they genuinely liked me or if they just wanted me to fill a spot. I knew the Panthers were interested in me for sure so I decided to go there.

  LM: What other teams made a run at you?

RJ: Dallas, Kansas City and Oakland -- those were the teams I was considering when it was time to make the decision.

  LM: Did you do any research before picking the Panthers?

RJ: Well, you know it was draft time and I planned on being picked up a little bit earlier. Once it got to the seventh round I didn't have much time left and I kind of just went off my general knowledge of the game. I have a pretty good history on the Panthers because I grew up liking the Giants and the 49ers and I've always been around watching [Carolina] compete. I know some of the situations with [Carolina's] fullbacks and tight ends.

LM: How did Al Groh's program at Virginia prepare you for the NFL?

RJ: It helped me build a mental toughness about my character. I kind of take after my head coach at Virginia; he's a real indomitable personality and indomitable spirit. I understand that in this game everything isn't going to be perfect. You have to be persistent and bounce back to the next play and the next opportunity. I stay mentally positive and spread some of that mental positivity to my teammates. I think that's one of the best things I learned at Virginia, the work ethic.

  LM: Is minicamp everything you expected?

RJ: It is. I have some friends in the NFL and they've been giving me great advice. It's sort of like high school academics versus college academics. In high school, people hold your hand a little bit more. In college, you're on your own. It's sort of like being on this level in football. You make the decision to be great, but you've got to do the necessary things to get better.

Will Jackson make the final 53-man roster? Talk it out in the message boards.

Panther Insider Top Stories