TUCSON – Three times a day, seemingly every day, Arizona linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson has to explain his name or tell someone it’s real.
It’s real, all right.
Real cool. Genuinely unique.
He might have ended up as Arthur, but his auntie (as he put it) intervened and came up with Sir.
“He’s not a Knight yet, but he’s a Sir,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez joked Saturday night after Thomas had seven total tackles in UA’s 24-17 overtime win against Toledo.
There’s nothing like making a name for yourself – even it’s already been done for you at birth. Can he do it again against No. 18 Oklahoma State?
We will see.
But Sir T, as Rodriguez called him Saturday night, has gotten himself noticed. He’s also making himself at home at outside linebacker while fillin in for projected starter Hank Hobson.
Jackson, 5-feet-10 and 180 pounds, is in his second year in the program after arriving in 2011 as a “recruited” walk-on, chooshing Arizona over Washington, Air Force and Washington State.
“They gave an opportunity here,” said Jackson, a Seattle native.
His opportunity got even better when Rodriguez got the job. Being a walk-on himself at West Virginia during his playing days, Rodriguez has a soft spot for the underdog walk-on.
“If I keep working hard … He had it rough like I had it rough,” Jackson said. “We have characteristics like that.”
Whatever works. On Wednesday, Rodriguez described the undersized linebacker as a hard worker and a “good kid.”
“He is a tough guy who is very coachable and as far as walk-ons go – he epitomizes what you hope to see,” Rodriguez said. “(He’s) a guy that comes out and tries to prove himself every day. I am very proud of him.”
When fall camp started last month, Jackson said he felt like he wouldn’t play that much, but he kept looking for an opportunity, gaining confidence with every practice and every play.
It’s what he did best on Saturday, he said. He played with a committed confidence.
“Sometimes I try to go 100 miles per hour,” he said.
That’s the way he’s always been.
“He loves to play, and he’s relentless,” his high school coach, Monte Kohler, said two years ago in an interview with the Seattle Times. “He’s got a great motor and plays harder than probably anybody we’ve got on the team. He just never backs off or slows down.”
With a name like Sir, how could you?
Jackson recalls his middle school days, when his teachers would do a double-take when they saw his name for the first time, saying: “Mr. Thomas, OK, I hope you are living up to your name.”
Note to teachers: So far, so good with the Wildcats.