CSU LB Dequan Jackson leaving his mark on Rams program

Of the 17 seniors playing their final game for Colorado State on Friday against New Mexico, only a handful have had the impact that linebacker Dequan Jackson has.

Jackson is a graduate student and Friday’s game will be the end of his fifth year of eligibility.

A member of the CSU program since his freshman year in 2018 and a starter since his sophomore year, Jackson made a strong impression on head coach Jay Norvell, who only got to coach the standout for one year.

“Dequan is an excellent student,” Norvell said. “He is a guy that has really taken advantage of his education. And he has also taken advantage of his football, playing here at CSU. He’s tried really hard to be a great example to the younger players. The guy has really been an example in tough times and he’s committed to this university and he’s committed to this program.”

As a freshman out of Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, Fla., Jackson appeared in 10 games, registering 11 tackles. He was just scratching the surface of what he was capable of.

His sophomore year, he played in all 12 of CSU’s games, starting 11 of them. He had 87 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He established himself as a leader on defense.

COVID hit his junior season and he played and started in four games of the shortened season. He had 40 tackles and was a team captain for the first time.

He started every game his senior season, totaling 84 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

Following his junior season, he was named All-Mountain West second team and after his senior year, he was named All-Mountain West honorable mention.

So far this season, Jackson has 89 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss to go along with two forced fumbles.

Even though he has been a captain for three seasons, Jackson has taken on a larger role as a leader on this year’s team — one that featured both a new coach and a significant number of players who left the team during the season.

“It’s been an honor, man,” Jackson said. “A lot of times, it’s the players on the team who get to vote, especially when a new staff comes in. I think the staff has approved of it anyways, but it’s been an honor to lead these guys and have guys look up to me for influence and to take on every challenge that we’ve had and be an example for guys on how to handle it and how to handle adversity.

“I hope the guys have learned from me over the years. Maybe when I will leave out of here, I will inspire some other guys to step up and be a leader.”

As one of the longest tenured Rams, Jackson has endured his share of change and adversity. He played under three coaches — Mike Bobo for two years, Steve Addazio for two years and now Norvell for his final one.

Between his senior season and this one, Norvell came on board and has really enjoyed getting to know the three-time captain on more than a player-coach level and watching him take a leadership role.

“I just think it’s been great getting to know each other,” Norvell said. “We really spend a lot of time just talking about what’s important in leadership and all the qualities of great leaders and examples of great leadership. Dequan is really taking that seriously and I just think it is going to serve him well the rest of his life.”

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Norvell hopes the younger players have learned from Jackson how to handle themselves in tough situations.

Through the coaching changes, Jackson stayed. Then as players began leaving the team early in the season, Jackson was determined to stay loyal and committed and play the rest of his final year.

“I made a commitment to this program and to the team and I never really signed to a coach,” Jackson said. “I appreciate the coaches who assigned me and recruited me. Every coaching staff has been great with me, personally. It’s just one of those things where I look at the commitment I made to my brothers and the guys in that locker room and I could probably look at myself the same way.

“Every time that opportunity comes around, I look at the guys and I realize that this is where I want to be. It hasn’t really been a hard decision to stay here.”