Freshman Adrian Jackson’s one start shows a promising future

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

Injuries suck. But like many bad things, they come with a silver lining.

In football, when starters get hurt, players behind them get an opportunity to prove themselves. So when Oregon linebacker La’Mar Winston Jr. got hurt in week one against Bowling Green, an opportunity arose for freshman Adrian Jackson.

When Winston Jr. went down, Jackson thought, “Oh yeah, it’s my time, so I better make it work.”

He split reps with sophomore Keith Simms, but against Portland State the next week, he earned the start. Winston Jr. is ready for Oregon’s game against San José State, but in his absence, Jackson proved he is a versatile defender with a bright future.

“I thought Adrian came in and played pretty good,” defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt said after the Bowling Green game. “We played Adrian at both places — inside and outside. That’s pretty hard for a true freshman that never played linebacker in his life.”

And he needs to keep playing linebacker. Jackson played safety, cornerback and wide receiver in high school. Linebacker was new for him when he arrived at Oregon, and they were rotating him between outside and inside, which makes a big difference in a 3-4 scheme.

“I’m not going to lie, in fall camp I was a little bit iffy about my performance, but as we went on and on, as we got closer to the season, I started to feel comfortable out there and that I can impact the defense in a very good way,” Jackson said.

Jackson felt he played well in his start against Portland State, recording two solo tackles, one for a loss. He was a freshman making his first start, but he wasn’t too nervous, and he made sure he wasn’t.

“I feel if you go into a football game panicking or thinking too much then you’ll have a bad performance,” Jackson said.

Jackson felt he could’ve been more aggressive, but overall he completed his one goal.

“I feel like as a true freshman, you just don’t want to let your team down,” he said. “I was trying to do my best, and I feel like I came out of it with a good result.”

Jackson said he only had one mental error, and when it happened it was his teammate — Winston Jr. — who was there to help him.

“He was telling me that you’ve got to learn from the mistake, so La’Mar was right there,” Jackson said. “He was teaching me everything. He was hand-in-hand with me throughout the whole process.”

Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917

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