Northwestern's Jackson puts studies ahead of stardom
Justin Jackson put up numbers last year that would have had the NFL open the door wide for the Northwestern running back, but he has other things on his mind.
"I didn't think I'd reached my potential yet,” Jackson told the DuPage Policy Journal. “Also, I wanted make sure I finished out with my studies because of all the work I've put in.”
As a junior last year, Jackson led the Big Ten with 117.2 rushing yards per game and 1,524 total rushing yards — numbers that ranked him 16th and 13th, respectively, in the nation. The capper to his stellar campaign was a career-best 224 yards and three touchdowns in Northwestern's 34-24 win over Pittsburgh in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28, 2016, in New York.
Jackson earned game MVP honors, which added to his other accolades last season: All-Big Ten first team pick by the media and second team by the league's coaches, as well as Academic All-American second team choice by the country's sports information directors.
But statistics aren't everything for the senior, who also sees himself as a leader off the field.
“It's fun to be able to talk to the younger guys and tell them, this is what I've experienced, this is what I've seen go right, this is what I've seen go wrong, and here are some ways to make sure certain things happen and certain things don't happen,” Jackson said.
Jackson added that he believes he can help the Wildcats go further in his final season. He said he spent the offseason getting ready physically and mentally.
"Every single week is going to be of major importance," he said.
In his final spring practice, Jackson saw some good things in the underclassmen.
“I think a lot of the young guys got a lot of good reps, and I think it's going to bode well for us going into the summer,” Jackson said.
The Wildcats open the 2017 season Sept. 2 against Nevada at Ryan Field.
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