Sir Thomas Jackson’s “dream school” was Washington. Beating the Huskies is his new dream.
Jackson, a walk-on redshirt freshman linebacker from Seattle’s O’Dea High School, says he will have a little extra motivation this week to play against his hometown school and a roster full of friends.
“I do,” he said.
“Just have to show it on the field, just get this W. That’s all I care about it. It’s in the past. I forgive them.”
Jackson (6-0, 215 pounds) has been one of the surprising stories of the first half of Arizona’s season, taking advantage of injuries at the position to start every game. He ranks sixth on the team in tackles with 37, including 4.5 for loss and one sack. He has broken up three passes.
He had hoped for a scholarship to Washington — “I was a Husky fan; a big one,” he said — but he was an undersized defensive end in high school who lacked a lot of scholarship offers.
“The film on him was as a defensive lineman, and we tried to tell coaches he would be a stand-up defensive end or linebacker in college,” his high school coach, Monte Kohler, told TucsonCitizen.com last month.
“He was a football player. It’s just his motor. Every snap, every practice. Everything he did, he did full speed.”
Jackson decided to walk-on to Arizona, where he would get a chance to play against the Huskies. Saturday night is that chance.
How much, we’ll see. Jackson is battling sophomore Hank Hobson for playing time at outside linebacker. Hobson, who missed the start of the season because of a shoulder injury, received his most playing time of the season at Stanford on Oct. 4, when he made five tackles, including half a sack.
“I think it is competition,” coach Rich Rodriguez said after Wednesday’s practice. “I think right now (defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel) is figuring on both of them playing an equal amount.”