Mizzou’s Jackson looking to build on breakout game
Over the first six games, Jerrell Jackson lagged behind as the
third option in No. 7 Missouri’s passing attack. For a month, he
was the guy lugging a cast.
No one can overlook the junior anymore.
Jackson dazzled on the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter
of the seventh-ranked Tigers’ first victory over Oklahoma since
1998, pirouetting away from two defenders on a 38-yard catch. He
played a key role all day, with a season-best nine catches for 139
Before that, Jackson had only 18 receptions in five games while
recovering from a broken left wrist. He played the opener against
Illinois wearing a cast.
”I’ve had some alright games, but I hadn’t really played my
best yet,” Jackson said. ”Oklahoma probably asked themselves
where this kid came from after watching film and not seeing me do a
whole lot on tape.”
Jackson emerged from a relatively small urban high school
located in the heart of downtown Houston. At Jefferson Davis High,
he averaged an eye-popping 23.8 yards on 42 catches with 18
touchdowns as a senior, but attracted little attention before
impressing Missouri coach Gary Pinkel with his speed.
”I’ve been a Jerrell Jackson fan for a long time,” Pinkel
said. ”Midseason last year, I’m talking to him all the time to
raise expectations. That you’re a great athlete and you can make
Jackson stepped up after Jared Perry missed the final two games
last season because of a knee injury, and he had eight catches for
142 yards and a touchdown in a win over Iowa State.
He ended up third on the team in receptions (37) and yards
(458), setting him up to replace Danario Alexander as the top
receiver. Alexander, now with the St. Louis Rams, served as mentor
”He used to always preach to me about yards after catch,”
Jackson said. ”Get the rock and do something with it and that’s
what I think about every time I catch the ball.”
Alexander watched Jackson’s exploits on TV the night before the
Rams’ 18-17 loss at Tampa Bay.
”I’m really proud of him,” Alexander said. ”He ran the ball
after the catch, like I always told him.”
Strong performances in spring practices resulted in Jackson
being touted as the Tigers’ most dangerous deep threat entering his
junior season. All of that momentum came to a halt on Aug. 11 after
he was injured on a hit from teammate Jasper Simmons in practice,
and Jackson struggled playing the first four games wearing a
”It was more about catching the ball with my fingers and not
letting it hit me in the cast,” Jackson said. ”It got in the way
a few times, but I thought it was going to be tougher than it
”Now I feel like it’s time for me to get back to my old
Missouri (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) already boasts two receivers who are
in the top 10 nationally in total receptions. Michael Egnew ranks
fifth with 56 catches to go with a 7.9-yard average and three
touchdowns, and T.J. Moe has 53 receptions, an 11.8-yard average
and three touchdowns for eighth-best.
Now there’s another threat, and just in time for Saturday’s game
at No. 14 Nebraska (6-1, 2-1). The winner takes control of the Big
12 North, and Jackson and his teammates will have to make plays
against a Cornhuskers pass defense that ranks third in the
”When you have guys all across the board that can make plays
it’s really tough on a defense,” Moe said. ”It seems like every
game there is someone new making plays and that’s because we don’t
have any superstars on this team.
”We have a lot of great players who step up and contribute when
it’s their time to shine.”