Aug. 16, 2009
By Drew Edwards
One of the most sought-after defensive backs in this year's recruiting class, freshman Janzen Jackson talks about the benefit of being a coach's son, playing alongside Eric Berry and learning the playbook in this Q&A.
Has the speed of the game been the toughest thing to adjust to?
"No, I think just the playbook. When you get to college, you're going to get on the same workout plan. You're going to be as fast. If you're a good athlete, you're going to be like everybody else. You separate yourself in the mental aspect of the game."
How did you feel about your performance during the first week of fall camp?
"I think I did pretty good. I had a couple busts in the scrimmage, but I played well. If I feel like I'm not in the right spot to make a play, I run hard to the football to try to make a play."
You talked about being mentally prepared. How much does it help being a coach's son?
"As far as knowing the position and being able to flip your hips at DB and plant and stuff, I think I was kind of ahead of the curve. But you've still got to come in and learn the defense. The main aspect is the terminology. It's a totally different system. Everybody's got to learn something new. When Coach Monte (Kiffin) came in, EB - Eric Berry - and all them, the whole defense, had to learn the system. It took them some time, so it's going to take me a little time, too."
What's it like being out in practice with Eric Berry?
"He helps you out a lot. That's the first thing I'm going to say. He doesn't have a big head. He's real humble. Going from seeing him play on TV to standing right next to him and having a good chance of playing with him this season, it's like a dream come true. He's always been one my favorite safeties in college."
Coach Kiffin promised the incoming freshmen a shot when you got here. Your shot came as early as any freshman as far as getting first-team reps. Did you expect it come that fast?
"I kind of kept up with the DBs while I was still at home. I kind of figured I was going to have to earn my keep around here with all the different safeties and all the athletes. Now, with getting playing time and stuff, I think it helps me out getting earlier playing time in the scrimmages and stuff. The biggest thing I've got to do is learn the playbook. I think that will be my biggest thing to do."
Coaches have used DVDs and PowerPoint stuff during the offseason to help players learn the playbook. There's a lot of walk-throughs and meetings early in fall camp. Does that help the young guys get to know the playbook better?
"The best thing to help us learn is to actually see it out on the field. Coaches put a lot of effort into making playbooks and different plays we've got to scheme for. When you give you that, it's a big old stack. When you look at it on paper, it's different than looking at it on the field. As soon as you get out there on the field and get mental reps and get reps in the game, then you'll learn it better."