Jackson speaks: Glad to be back

ATLANTA — A return was never guaranteed.

There were moments Janzen Jackson didn’t know for sure if he would even get a chance for one with Tennessee.

But after serving a one-game suspension and missing two more while waiting for charges to be dropped for his alleged role in an attempted armed robbery, the freshman safety was given another shot with the Vols. And Jackson is trying to make the most of it, starting with the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia Tech on New Year’s Eve (TV: ESPN, 7:30 p.m.).

“It’s been a process,” Jackson said after practice Sunday during his first public comments since the Nov. 12 incident. “Getting back on the field, getting back to having fun, being back with my teammates and stuff — I really enjoy being with them, and it kind of hurt me to be away from them for so long.

“I think we got stuff to look forward to with this bowl game right here, and I’m really pleased to be back with the team.”

The Vols are clearly glad to have him back.

UT coach Lane Kiffin has made repeated references over the last two months to the difference Jackson makes on the last line of defense, and it certainly looked susceptible without him.

The Vols won easily when he was suspended against Memphis, though they were gashed for more big plays than expected and didn’t look as dominant as they had throughout October with him in the lineup. Then in the first game after the arrests without Jackson, Ole Miss ran all over UT in a lopsided loss that likely cost it a spot in the Outback Bowl.

Jackson returned two weeks later and contributed to the thrilling overtime win at Kentucky that clinched a date with the Hokies, and everything appears to have worked out just fine for both parties since then.

“At times (there was doubt), but I just prayed, put my faith in God that he would lead me in the right direction, and whatever came about, I had to take it in stride,” Jackson said. “Lucky enough, I was able to get back on the team and I can go on from here.

“Just try to be positive in every decision I make, trying to lead as an example because I’ve got people that are watching, little kids looking up to me, especially back home. I’ve got to be positive for them. You know, I learned to make the right decisions, to try to make decisions that will better myself and work toward being a positive person. I just take positives from it, I don’t take anything negative from it. “

The lessons aren’t exactly over for Jackson yet, and the maturation process is ongoing.

Jackson will get to continue that process with the Vols.

“We’re in a continuing process with all of our young kids of continuing to get them to mature to the level that we need them to be, and Janzen’s one of them,” Kiffin said last week. “I do see him improving, but he still has a ways to go.

“I’ve not seen much different from a football standpoint because he’s been the same all along. Janzen has played a huge role when he has been out there, not just by the numbers, but the presence that he brings. When Janzen Jackson is in our huddle, we are a completely different defense. I can feel it in practice, and I obviously feel it in games. When you have a guy like that who knocks people out, who hits the way that he does, it builds confidence in the whole huddle. We’ve played games where guys have been injured or Janzen hasn’t been there and it’s been a different feeling.”

Clearly the Vols don’t want to lose it again. Now that he can give it once more, Jackson doesn’t want to miss out either.

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Comments » 18

murrayvol writes:

Sometimes 2nd chances pay dividends for both parties. Sometimes not.

Certainly hope we're saying this was a good decision 2 years on.

HtownVol writes:

Glad we have him. Please keep your life straight and make the most of this chance.

HtownVol writes:

Hopefully he makes progress and UT will get more talent and take over the SEC. The opportunity is there.

Ringside writes:

Take advantage of your second chance and keep in good company.

dvhill100 writes:

Okay, you had your stupid attack. Don't have another one.

hillbully writes:

We all hope with that stupid decision being made and the consequences rendered was enough to keep Janzen on the straight path. We all make mistakes just learn from them.

Myrsaad writes:

Dear Janzen Jackson,

I'm sure every Vol fan is glad to have you back on the field. So please, put the bowl down and sprint in the opposite direction. Please,choose better situations and avoid the bad ones. Because the opportunity you have and the future in front of you doesn't usually come around twice..

Can't wait to see #15 making plays again!

Volsfan94 writes:

Jackson is like a young version of our EB. He is ganna have a great future as a VOL.

TrueVol70 writes:

I agree wholeheartedly with NavalOrange. Very glad to have you back, Janzen. I look forward to many, many years of great plays from you at UT and then in the NFL.

Cldvols1 writes:

In order to be successful you have to surround yourself with successful people. Glad to have you back Janzen, now go knock the snot out of a Hokie!!!

layoffthevolteam writes:

He mentions being a role model for kids back home, Okay ,who JJ, who is your role model or someone who can hold you accountable?
I can say straight up these kids, get it? kids need
mentors to work with them and create a value system. I hear GOD mentioned. Are we serving GOD
in the Fulton area?
The answer is for the Knoxville area to get involved with some real men...

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Daddy.My,I have been looking for you for a long time.Daddy,I need help to make me secure for life.Daddy,daddy.my beloved daddy.But please daddy,don't just say things like that to impress other posters.

abnerPeabody writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

jman33163 writes:

I really hope this young man makes good his third chance. I say third because he already has gotten a second chance when he did whatever it is he did to get suspended for the Memphis game. What that was is up for debate and I care not what the answer is, it was an infraction and he was punished. With the other incident I was all for his dismissal along side the other two idiots. Coach saw fit to reinstate him so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Take advantage young man and be the best Vol you can be for your remaining time!

Go Big Orange

Psychovol writes:

The Vols lost that lovin feeling and the fans lost it for you. Walk the walk and we'll all get it back.

VolFaninTriCities writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey Long_vol didnt Clinton bomb the "yugo" factories in Yugoslavia back in the 90's? Did us all a favor so those cars aren't smokin' up the highways.

givehim6 writes:

Go forth and become a wiser man, and stronger VOL! I'm sure after the bowl game UT will need a leader to steep into EB's shoes in the backfield, so be the next "the man" back there!

Liberal_Vol writes:

Here is what I would like to hear from Jackson:

"I expect a vote of no-confidence from UT fans until enough time has passed without incident for that to change. Further, I would not expect kids to look up to me because I have not associated with the kind of people I should have. My UT career is going to be about gaining the confidence of UT fans again."

For me, it will take 2 or 3 years - if ever.

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