Jackson was lone secondary starter on Saturday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Sports Editor

For Troy State cornerback Deiric Jackson playing in the Trojans’ secondary last season must have seemed like a game of musical chairs.

Jackson, who will be a junior in the fall, started the first five games at right cornerback, didn’t start against Southwest Texas and Sam Houston State, and finished the last five opposite of where he had started the season – at left corner.

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In between was the loss of potential all-conference cornerback Rayshun Reed, who Jackson took over for in the second half of the year, and freshman DB Derrick Ansley, both to season-ending knee injuries. Starting free safety Travis Bozeman’s football career was brought to an abrupt end when the senior

suffered a neck injury against Nicholls State on Oct. 28.

Ansley dressed out during Troy State’s annual T-Day game on Saturday, while Reed is still in rehabilitation. Chris Archie, who replaced Bozeman for the remainder of the year, has graduated, as has strong safety Antonio Thompson.

That left just Jackson as the lone returning starter playing with the first-team defense on Saturday.

Jackson, who played his high school ball in Gainesville, Fla. responded well, picking off two passes and also recovering a fumble, returning the ball 41-yards to set up a DeWhitt Betterson touchdown for the White team.

Just a sophomore, Jackson has found himself thrust into a leadership position in the Trojans’ secondary.

"The younger guys look to me for leadership, because I’m a returning starter from last year," said Jackson. "I just try to come in and help them out, like when they have a question, I’ll answer it and just try to be a leader."

Jackson said he didn’t feel any added pressure on Saturday, facing off against the Trojans’ new offense, which utilizes a four or five wide receiver set.

" I don’t feel like there’s a lot of pressure on us, because of our defensive line," he said. " On any defense, if you have a good pass rush that’s going to make your job easier in the secondary. I just feel like if we play together as a unit, the pressure will equal itself out. From the line to the linebackers to the secondary, if everybody does their job, there want be any pressure."

The first team defense held starting quarterback Brock Nutter in check for most of the first half, allowing the White team to build a 28-7 lead at the break.

"We knew they (the offense) were going to throw it around," Jackson said. " There’s really no way to stop it, but if we could just get a good solid pass rush and play solid coverage in the secondary then maybe we could slow them down."

The Cardinal offense finally got on track in the second half, but couldn’t overcome the White’s advantage. Jackson and the defense won the game 31-26.

"We played base defense today," said Jackson. "In a game situation we would probably go nickel or dime against the wide receivers."