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August 2008 Issue
Defensive Back: Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson’s got some moves. But you’ll never see them. Not in an Oklahoma Sooners uniform, at least.
Jackson remembers all too clearly one of the last times a Sooner decided to strut his stuff. More clearly, he remembers the look on coach Bob Stoops’ face afterward.
It was 2005, a home game against Texas A&M. While Jackson was a wide-eyed freshman from DeSoto, Texas, still trying to take it all in, Allen Patrick was on his way as Adrian Peterson’s backup.
Patrick took a sweep 28 yards for a touchdown, giving the Sooners a 28-7 lead on the last play of the first quarter. The last 15 yards, Patrick trotted with the ball extended in front of him. But an Aggie defensive back never stopped chasing and nearly knocked Patrick into the bye week as he crossed the goal line.
A little too close for Stoops’ comfort.
“I saw the way Coach Stoops got on A.P. for sticking the ball over the pylon,” Jackson said.
It was at that moment, he decided, that he wouldn’t be celebrating while playing football in Norman.
“I’m not doing nothing,” he said. “I’m going to walk into the end zone and hand the ball to the ref.”
In some ways, that’s too bad. Jackson, the Sooners’ up-and-coming boundary cornerback, likes to pattern himself after one of the sport’s all-time flashiest personalities.
“I’ve always been a Deion Sanders fan,” he said. “I’m nowhere close to his speed, but I feel like my length, my arms and my size can give me that extra step. If I recall, he was only 5-10 or 5-11, but he was blazing. That’s just always someone to look up and try to emulate him.”
For now, Jackson would do well to emulate recently departed Reggie Smith, now an employee of the San Francisco 49ers. Smith was All-Big 12 at cornerback last season and decided to turn pro after his junior year.
The early departure left the OU defensive backfield in a bit of a lurch, particularly because Smith was versatile enough to play corner or safety. And particularly because Jackson’s only time on the field in 2006 and 2007 was as a special-teams standout or as a backup to Smith. He redshirted as a freshman in ’05 and sat out the ’06 spring with a knee injury.
“Regardless,” said defensive coordinator Brent Venables, “We expect Brian Jackson to play well.”
Actually, Jackson is one-half of the Sooners’ 2008 cornerback makeover. Replacing steady starter Marcus Walker is third-year sophomore Dominique Franks. Both looked good during this year’s spring practices.
“We do feel that Brian and Dom are instinctive players who are very physical in going after the football,” Venables said. “They’ve got good ball skills and good anticipation.”
Jackson was a top-20 cornerback coming out of high school. One of his cousins is Chris Draft, a nine-year NFL veteran now playing linebacker for the St. Louis Rams.
But three years of service at OU with zero career starts and the bulk of his action coming on special teams wasn’t sitting well with him. He competed with Franks to replace Smith — who was out with a broken toe — in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, but Franks won the job.
“We were back and forth like the whole practice,” Jackson said. “I’d go three plays and he’d go three plays, all the way through until the game. I guess when it got in the game, you kind of just go with your first mind, and I feel like I may not have competed as hard as he did. But I felt like either one of us that was out there was going to do the job and get the job done.”
Jackson went into winter conditioning and spring with a new way of looking at himself and what he wanted to accomplish.
“I said to myself, ‘I have to step up and do this or I’m gonna fall by the wayside,’” explained Jackson. “The last couple years, I haven’t put in what I feel like I could have — in all parts of my life.
“Everyone has to look in the mirror and say, ‘Is my life right now the way I want it?’ If it’s not, you have the opportunity to change it.”
As long as he doesn’t start dancing.
(Editor's Note: Sooner Spectator runs Boomer Bio features in every issue. This one appears in the 2008 Football Preview Issue. Subscribe today by calling toll free 1-877-841-8877)