It is such an incredible compliment that it borders on pure lunacy.
Certifiable or not, check out what Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin had to say about freshman safety Janzen Jackson:
“It’s going to sound crazy but there are some things he actually does better than Eric (Berry) sometimes,”Kiffin said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “He’s not the player Eric is yet. We all know that. But he has potential to be a great player.”
But better than Berry? The junior safety was an All-American on a 5-7 team a year ago. Kiffin didn’t relent. Jackson is special.
“I think he’s going to be an All-American player as long as he stays healthy and keeps practicing hard and preparing hard,” Kiffin said. “He’s one of the hardest guys at practice. He gets it. His dad has done a great job raising him.”
Jackson, who is the son of Miami University defensive backs coach Lance Guidry, is certainly a student of the game. He chose UT in part to learn from defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
Lane Kiffin said playing for his father, Monte, was a big reason why Jackson surprised LSU and signed with UT. Jackson, who is from Lake Charles, La., had been committed to the Tigers for almost a year.
“He actually has looser hips,” Lane Kiffin said, comparing Jackson and Berry.
LSU recruited Jackson to play cornerback. He nearly did the same at UT. After proving himself, UT’s coaches were determined to get him on the field. After much debate, they decided that it would be easier to move junior Dennis Rogan to cornerback because he had played the position throughout his UT career.
That opened the door for Jackson to start at free safety, which he first did in the second game against UCLA and continued to do against Florida.
Jackson never gave up a big play as so many safeties do in their SEC debuts. He also laid one of the hardest hits of the Florida game when he hammered receiver Brandon James in the end zone in the second quarter.
“I was coming out of my coverage just trying to make a play and I saw him throw the ball to Brandon James,” Jackson said after the game. “I just tried to knock the ball loose.”
Jackson did just that, and saved a touchdown when he knocked the ball free. James was slow to get up but returned to the game. The hit seemed familiar — like another UT safety.