Former SEAL inspires as college football career comes to close

AMHERST, NY — Buffalo defensive end Damien Jackson isn’t expecting to get emotional as he gears up for his final game of college life next week.

At 30, Jackson, who has shared plenty of real-life experience during his two servings with the Navy SEALs, isn’t built that way. Unlike many of his younger teammates, Jackson is independent-minded, unsentimental, and self-aware enough to understand how football fits into his world.

“Frankly, I’m a terrible person to ask because I don’t care,” Jackson said as he watched the Bulls (6-6) face Georgia Southern (6-6) in the Camellia Bowl. said with a laugh, Tuesday.

It’s not like, ‘Oh, I’m nervous,’ or I have to get the ball out, or I have to do this, or I have to do that. I’m just going to be the same person I am,’ he added. He has one game left. Please continue to the next step. ”

Jackson had never played organized football before attending the University of Nebraska in 2017. He eventually chose football as his career path after finishing a stint with the SEALs, joking that he was “too big” at 6-foot-2 and 263 pounds. To pursue baseball or soccer.

He got the chance to play in a starting defensive role after transferring to Buffalo as a graduate in June. There are sufficient grounds to know that

Although he’s never played in a college game, Jackson spends time before and after practice honing his skills, returning to Nebraska to work with the Cornhuskers staff before attending Buffalo’s pre-draft pro day. It’s a schedule.

With his burly arms, long hair and unruly beard, Jackson has already caught the attention of Buffalo alumnus and former NFL assistant coach Jim McNally, who works as a consultant for the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’m going to the wall for this kid,” McNally said. “A lot of NFL scouts say, ‘He’s too old.’ It can be said that it is in a better condition than a human being.”

McNally imagines how having Jackson under his wing will surprise scouts with his athletic prowess based solely on his military training.

“OK, he’s never played football, but you can imagine the heart he has,” McNally said.

Most often thought of as an introvert – “Honestly, I don’t really like talking to people” – Jackson made a big impression in Buffalo.

“I wish I could be with a guy like Damien Jackson forever,” said coach Maurice Linguist.

“You probably don’t have the vocabulary and the words to really express what a great example he is of what he should look like and who you should be.” He has a great balance of humility and confidence because he prepares and trains the right way.He is one of the hardest working and most selfless people I have ever met.”

In 12 games against Buffalo, Jackson participated in 22 tackles, recovered from a fumble and enjoyed his first career sack in college last month in a 30-27 overtime loss to Kent State.

The linguist smiled as he remembered the sack that helped limit Kent State to a field goal.

“He made the bag just the way he did it. It was a bag of effort,” said the linguist. “He didn’t beat his opponent clean off the ball. He beat a guy who was trying to block him.”

Defensive captain James Patterson said it’s not unusual to see Jackson cleaning up the locker room after practice. It wasn’t until three days later that they found out it was the first of their careers.

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