04/23/2012 - Jackson was a second-team All-SEC selection as a sophomore in 2010, when he made 69 tackles, four for loss and five interceptions. His freshman year was overshadowed by an arrest on attempted armed robbery along with Vols first-year teammates Mike Edwards and Nu'Keese Richardson, but charges against Jackson later were dropped. "I made some mistakes, and I admit I made them," Jackson said recently on WWL 870 in New Orleans. "I was young. I was away from home, and I didn't make the right choices back then, and I paid the price. It humbles you no matter how good you think you are. I know the NFL knows all about those issues, and I have no reason to back away from them, but I also know that I learned from those errors in judgment. "I am trying my best to keep my focus right and let my talent speak for itself." - David Paschall, The Chattanooga Times Free Press
Rated a five-star recruit, Jackson was pursued by virtually every team in the country as a prep prospect. Upon signing with Tennessee, he wasted little time in proving that the Volunteers' run of All-SEC safeties didn't stop with Jonathan Hefley and Eric Berry. He earned the start at free safety in just his second game and started 10 games, overall as a freshman, registering 37 tackles, a sack and notching his first career interception against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The best season of Jackson's career came in 2010 as he started all 13 games, led the team with 11 passes defensed, the Vols' defensive backs with 69 tackles, tied for the team lead with five interceptions, including one in the end zone against North Carolina in the Music City Bowl. A true sophomore, Jackson was the only Vol to be named to the coaches' All-SEC team.
A litany of off-field issues caught up with Jackson in August 2011, ultimately leading to his dismissal from the program. He transferred to McNeese State (located in his hometown) where he started at safety before moving to cornerback. He registered 32 tackles and three interceptions -- one of which he returned 84 yards for his first career touchdown -- and declared early for the draft.
Jackson's talent is undeniable. While built more like a cornerback than a safety, he has the vision, range, hitting ability and ball skills team want at free safety in today's pass-heavy NFL. Ultimately, the question isn't where he'd fit in an NFL defensive backfield but whether his serious off-field issues will keep him from getting a chance to do so.
POSITIVES: Lean, athletic build with plenty of room for additional muscle mass. Legitimate NFL-caliber athlete. Possesses good straight-line speed, fluid hips to turn and run and explosiveness out of his breaks. Good vision and anticipation as a free safety. Reads the quarterback's eyes and gets an excellent break on the ball. Is a considerably bigger hitter than his slight frame would lead you to believe. Closes quickly and generates an explosive collision on impact that can separate the football...
NEGATIVES: Possesses a slim build more conducive to cornerback than safety... A bit high cut... Physicality he shows as a hitter will wear on his own body too, especially considering his slight stature for the position... Lowers his shoulder for the big hit rather than wrapping up securely. Significant character red flags. Was arrested, along with two other Tennessee players for taking part in an armed robbery of a convenience store November 11, 2009 in Knoxville. Was ultimately released when prosecutors determined that he did not know the crime was being committed... Reportedly had multiple other run-ins with authorities at Tennessee for off-field concerns, including for substance abuse. Left the program to deal with "personal issues" in the spring of 2011. Was welcomed back to the team in July only to get dismissed from the team August 24 by head coach Derek Dooley...
--By Rob Rang