The Commercial Appeal

Ex-horn Lake star Jackson practicing what he preaches

- By John Varlas

In the fall of 2006, Brandon Jackson was the fourth-string running back at the University of Nebraska. Five years later, the Horn Lake High graduate was helping the Green Bay Packers defeat Pittsburgh to win Super Bowl 45.

“I had a torn labrum and I lost my place in the running back group,” he said. “We had some great running backs. ... But I worked my way back to being a starter and helped my team to a bowl game and the Big 12 championsh­ip (game).

“You’re gonna have adversity, you’re gonna have things that you have to face in life. Just work hard, persevere and keep God first. That’s what I did.”

That was the message Jackson, now with the Cleveland Browns, delivered to about 40 campers aged 9 through 17 Friday at the football complex in Latimer Lakes Park in Horn Lake.

Jackson ended his junior

year by rushing for 1,023 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the Cornhusker­s to a 9-5 record and a trip to the Cotton Bowl, where they lost to Auburn. He skipped his senior year to enter the NFL draft, where he was chosen in the second round, No. 63 overall, by the Packers.

But it all started in Horn Lake, although Jackson probably didn’t expect the result.

“(This) does take me back to the days when I was in the yard playing football, just a raw talent,” he said. “These guys are going to have the opportunit­y that I never had, to be coached by an NFL player and learn the fundamenta­ls at an early age.”

Jackson was all over the field Friday, instructin­g and encouragin­g, pushing and prodding. And for players like current Horn Lake running back Jonathan Mason, the lessons were priceless.

“I don’t think most NFL guys would take the time to give back like he’s doing,” the senior said. “Everybody wants to be like LaMichael James or Megatron (Calvin Johnson) but my goal is to break Brandon Jackson’s records.”

Added Anthony Wilson, a junior wide receiver at Southaven who also is Jackson’s cousin, “It’s crazy, just to have the opportunit­y to learn the fundamenta­ls and learn from his experience.”

And Jackson is practicing what he preaches. A toe injury caused him to miss all the 2011 season after signing with the Browns as a free agent and he played just two games last season.

But Jackson said not to count him out.

“My community, my coaches and my family are still behind me,” he said. “I’m very pleased with my college career and very pleased with NFL career. But it’s not over. I still have work to do.”

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 ??  ?? NFL running
back and Horn Lake High School alumnus Brandon Jackson cheers on
Michael Daughiry as he works through an obstacle course at Jackson’s
camp.
BRANDON DILL SPECIAL TO THE COMMERCIAL
APPEAL
NFL running back and Horn Lake High School alumnus Brandon Jackson cheers on Michael Daughiry as he works through an obstacle course at Jackson’s camp. BRANDON DILL SPECIAL TO THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL

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