Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jackson Adjusting to Unfamiliar Role

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jackson Adjusting to Unfamiliar Role

Article excerpt

Willie Jackson hears them -- familiar voices, saying new things.

They say Jackson will make it.

And he will be a crucial player.

"It's nice to hear," Jackson said.

Jackson, who will enter his third season with the Jaguars,

might have added, "finally," because in two previous seasons

with the team, getting someone to say he had a chance was never


Jackson didn't say "finally" -- for two reasons. One is the

fourth-year receiver from the University of Florida says he

didn't listen to doubters. The other is just making it, just

being on the team, never has been enough anyway.

Which makes his current situation difficult. Yes, he likely

will make the team, and will have a defined role -- third

receiver behind Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. Yet, it's the

third receiver part that gets to Jackson.

"This season is like no other I've been a part of," Jackson

said at the team's pre-camp, which ended yesterday at Ferrell

Fields outside Alltel Stadium. "Since I started playing, there

was always a chance I could be a starter. Now, I'm fighting to

play at the third position. That's a different approach for me.

"It's great to be playing and everything, but now the emphasis

is you are going to be playing this certain position. It's the

first time in my career that I've gone in knowing for a fact

that, `OK, this is your spot.' "

It's not easy to accept. Since he can remember, Jackson's story

has been overcoming odds, proving people wrong. He was the last

player in his Florida class offered a scholarship, yet finished

among the school's all-time leading receivers. Entering his first

two camps with the Jaguars, it was never certain he would make

the team, but he led the team in receiving in 1995, and fought

briefly for a starting job in training camp last year. …

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