Eddie Jackson, Alabama forced three INTs against UGA
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Alabama’s junior defensive back Eddie Jackson has come a long way. As a freshman, he was nervous in practice and endured some teachable moments from Crimson Tide’s head coach Nick Saban. The Florida native would learn from his mistakes, resulting in 19 total tackles and an interception against Ole Miss in a 25-0 shutout win during the 2013 season.
He came to Alabama as a four-star cornerback and showed promise of being a starter opposite Cyrus Jones; however, a knee injury in the spring of 2014 would set him back. Jackson made plays on the ball, but an anterior cruciate ligament injury limited his speed.
Jackson’s ability to attack the football and tackle in the run game opened up a battle at safety during the summer. Alabama hired Mel Tucker as its defensive backs coach in January and teaching took effect in spring practice. Jackson made the transition to safety, leaving Marlon Humphrey, Tony Brown and Minkah Fitzpatrick to push for the second role at corner.
Jackson’s disciplined eyes, footwork and humility have all paid off this season.
He started the year with a bang against Wisconsin, totaling six tackles and a crucial interception in the fourth quarter. He accounted for one of four turnovers forced against Middle Tennessee State in Alabama’s 37-10 victory.
Jackson would strike again in a match-up with Mississippi, collecting five tackles with one for loss. Saturday’s game against Georgia witnessed Jackson at his best. He was first to grab the “Ball Out” turnover belt, after intercepting a pass of Georgia’s quarterback Greyson Lambert and returning it for a 50-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Jackson’s second play came in the form of assisting redshirt freshman Marlon Humphrey. Humphrey was in position to intercept a pass off quarterback Brice Ramsey in the fourth quarter, but did not have his head turned toward the ball. Jackson screamed at him twice, and on the second yell, the freshman turned and brought in his first collegiate interception.
With a smile, Jackson chest bumped his teammate, tapped him on the helmet and handed Humphrey the belt. He finished with four total tackles against Georgia and stands at 19 on the year. Alabama head coach Nick Saban likes for X’s and O’s to be involved in “The Process,” yet the main thing is being there for teammates. Jackson has started to excel in both areas.
Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.
You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.