Jackson Shines in Red Flash Secondary

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Jackson Shines in Red Flash Secondary

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He thought he was going to put his name on the map by being the next great quarterback. Better than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Ever since he started playing football when he was little, he always wanted the ball in his hands.

When he realized defense suited his playing style better, he moved to defensive back. Now the conversation is the same, it’s just a different position and the names have changed. Now the list of names include Jermaine Ponder, Lorenzo Jerome, Malik Duncan, Hakeem Kinard.

Pittsburgh native and sophomore cornerback Dorian Jackson is slowly but surely joining the conversation as one of the best defensive backs to pass through Loretto. The 2019 season was a stellar one for Jackson, one that saw him set the school record for pass break-ups at 16 and earn First Team All-NEC honors. The record he broke wasn’t a long-standing one: it was set just last year by SFU great Jermaine Ponder during his senior season.

Ponder, who saw time with the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans this past preseason, was like an older brother to Dorian during Jackson’s freshman season. Ponder was someone Jackson could rely on while he got his footing in college, both on the field and in the classroom.

“He definitely was a mentor for me and made the game easier for me,” said Jackson.

Ponder said Jackson was ready from Day One.

“I don’t think D Jack ever needed a mentor. He was kind of ready since the day he came on to campus, especially with his mindset,” said Ponder. “I gave my advice where it was needed, but he didn’t need much.”

If anyone saw Jackson’s breakout sophomore season coming, it was Ponder.

“D Jack showed glimpses last year of what he could be, so I definitely expected him to take off this year,” said Ponder.

Jackson finished third in the country in pass break-ups in the FCS. He led an SFU defense that finished as one of the top units in the country again this year. Much of the SFU defense’s consistent success can be attributed to the outstanding play of its secondary.

Jerome, Duncan, Ponder and Kinard have all been on or tried out for NFL teams and two of them (Jerome and Ponder) played in an NFL regular-season or preseason game. Jackson is already being talked about in the same breath as some of these Red Flash greats. This is no small feat.

Jackson was under-recruited coming out of the Obama Academy in Pittsburgh, but that seems to be the theme with many of the greats that have played in the secondary at DeGol Field. The words thrown at them during the recruiting process are either “undersized” or “below-average talent.”

Like his predecessors, Jackson has proven them wrong. Duncan was undersized and ended up being a finalist for the FCS Defensive Player-of-the-Year. Ponder was under-recruited and recorded an interception in an NFL preseason game this season as a member of the Houston Texans. Jerome went on to start for both the San Francisco 49ers and the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League. Kinard took over for Jerome at SFU and didn’t miss a beat.

As Ponder noted, Jackson already possesses the composure and attitude of a veteran. The only thing he’s worried about is improvement. While he was third in the FCS in pass break-ups, he was one of only two players in the Top 40 in PBUs in the FCS not to record an interception.

“My goal is to just keep getting better and hopefully take those 50/50 balls that I had chances on this season and start turning those into interceptions in the future” said Jackson.

“D Jack is a once-in-a-lifetime player. He’s going to continue the tradition of great DBs (at SFU) and honestly, he can be the best one,” said Ponder. “He has a lot of room for improvement, but he’s light-years ahead of where I was as a sophomore. I’m excited to see how far he can go.”