The NFL Draft is approaching and all the draftees are gearing up for it. But there’s another football draft coming as well, the CFL (Canadian Football League) Draft on May 5th. While at least one area kid is expected to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft (Darrius Heyward-Bey, from the Randallstown area and wide receiver of the Maryland Terrapins), another local is heading to the CFL Draft and is gearing up for the event like a NFL draftees.
Brian Jackson, 6-1, 250 lbs., defensive lineman, was born in Totowa, New Jersey before his family moved to Maryland where he lived for fifteen years before attending Lehigh University, a Patriot League team. Jackson lived in the Perry Hall area and attended Perry Hall High School. Since being in college, Jackson have not been to Baltimore often, but when does visit, he takes advantage. “Since being a collegiate football player is quite time consuming, I’d probably say once every 6-8 months to visit my friends or to visit my brother (Clinton Jackson),” said Jackson. “Now that I have played my last game at Lehigh, I’ve been to Baltimore three or four times already this semester and there is always time for another trip. I would like to visit my old friends in Perry Hall and even my old coach, coach Hruz.”
Jackson had a stellar career at Lehigh. This past season as a senior, Jackson was voted the team’s (Lehigh Mountain Hawks) MVP and an All-American candidate that expected to start on the defensive line. In Jackson’s junior season, he was a second-team All-American, first-team All-Patriot League selection and All-Fraternity All-American selection. One of Jackson’s best games came against Villanova when he had 2.5 sacks, forced three fumbles (recovered one) and had a career high ten tackles in his junior year on the season opener. “I try to do what I can to disguise the play,” said Jackson. “I’ll stand up, move around, give a little lip to the other team, and do whatever I can do, but at the snap of the ball, I’m where I need to be.”
Jackson is pursuing his Bachelor of Arts in Biology at his institution and was anticipating on attending grad school for pharmacy, until one of his coaches had some news for him. “I honestly was shocked when one of my coaches called me into the office to tell me that a CFL team was interested,” said Jackson. “I wasn’t sending any film out or trying to get in contact with anyone in any league whatsoever. I knew, unconsciously, that something or someone was going to contact me and that I needed to be fit just in case. So when they finally contacted me, I guess it was fate.”
On April 14th, the staff of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (winner of ten Grey Cups) came to Lehigh and worked out Jackson and things went well. In my opinion, you can get in shape easily, but being in football shape in very tough to accomplish,” said Jackson. “The weather was kind of rough in the forties and the pro agilities, but when we did the other drills, I felt like I did much better. It helped that I was the only defensive player there so the head coach (Mike Kelly, who was a pro personnel assistant for the Washington Redskins from 2003 to 2005 and an offensive assistant/quality control coach and advance scout for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2001 to 2002) was focused on me.” The Blue Bombers also worked out the Mountains Hawks’ wide receiver, Sekou Yansane from Potomac, Maryland.
Even though Jackson was away at school, he still followed his favorite team. “I’m a die hard Ravens (Baltimore) fan and 100 percent anti-Steelers (Pittsburgh),” said Jackson. The Steelers’ safety, Troy Polamalu is one of Jackson’s favorite players, but number 52 is his main guy. “Ray Lewis’ (middle linebacker of the Ravens) play is unbelievable,” said Jackson “I almost had a heart attack when he was almost left. His football intelligence, physical dominance, nose for the ball, and will to win was something I tried to emulate throughout my career.”
Jackson will one day finish grad school and become a pharmacist, but for now, the game of football continuously burns in his heart. “I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to continue to play the greatest game every created and delay the ever so hated transition to the ‘real world’ that everyone eventually faces,” said Jackson.