Janzen Jackson opens up on absence

Vols safety Janzen Jackson talks after practice at Haslam Field on Monday, Aug. 8

The Tennessee program wasn't alone in wondering if Janzen Jackson would be returning for another season.

The junior safety admitted having had some doubts about his future with the Vols over the last few months as well.

In his first public comments since the Music City Bowl, Jackson declined on Monday to offer specifics about the personal problems that led to his withdrawal from UT in the spring and created lingering questions about his status with the team throughout the offseason. But while keeping most of the details about his absence private, Jackson did open up about his relationship with coach Derek Dooley and the difficulty on the road back to the Vols, also offering up his gratitude for the people who stood by him during the long process as well.

"It feels great to be back out here with my teammates, my friends, back playing the sport that I love," Jackson said. "As you know, I had some personal issues, a lot of family problems, and I just want to thank Tennessee for the support. I'm happy to be back out here on the field. That's where I'm at right now.

"I didn't think I was gone, but I thought there was a slim chance I wouldn't come back because I had to get some things in order to get back out on the field. I had to take care of some stuff, but I'm definitely happy to be back out here in orange."

Jackson stressed on multiple occasions that he wasn't ready to talk publicly about exactly what he needed to take care of away from the field, and as Dooley has indicated several times, the work isn't necessarily over now that he's back in pads.

But Jackson does have the benefit of structure around him again, not to mention a chance to do what he loves. And he's also got teammates and a coach who welcomed him back with open arms and never wavered in their support, even when it was no lock he'd return from a job laminating and posting wall decals around campus facilities to actually play in them once more.

"The toughest part was being away from this game, the game I love so much," Jackson said. "That's the biggest thing that hurt me while I was gone. I did everything I possibly could to get back, and it paid off. I'm just happy to be back out here with my teammates and these coaches, because they gave me so much support during my time off.

"I think (the meetings with Dooley) showed his concern, and he would do that for anybody on this team. I really appreciate Coach Dooley and the school for supporting me through my troubled times. ... For all the coaching changes, for Coach Dooley to stay there and be able to meet with me every week and make sure I'm doing all right, that meant a lot to me."

Dooley is able to gauge Jackson's progress daily now, and the early returns after a week in camp appear to be promising. Since the Vols had their first official workout a week ago, Dooley has had nothing but praise for the energy and attitude of the second-team all-SEC pick on the practice field.

Physically, the only real concern appears to be making sure Jackson's conditioning is back where it needs to be. Jackson says the brace he's wearing on his right wrist is only a precautionary measure for the torn tendon suffered last year against Ole Miss. Mentally, Dooley indicated he had seen a more mature approach from Jackson since he returned, and the complete package once again gives UT one of the best defensive backs in the league at its disposal.

"Time will tell, but Janzen loves playing ball, he loves it," Dooley said. "So when he's back out here on the grass, he's just a different person, he really is. I hope he continues to stay on the path he's on, and if he will, then he certainly will benefit and we all will.

"I've been one day at a time ever since he came back. He seems like he's in a good place right now, and I hope he stays in that place. That place is pretty good for Tennessee."

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at

865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward

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Comments » 32

VOLliven2it writes:

Declines to give specifics and that is opening up? I don't think so. It is his business and I hope it is done so that NOW his BUSINESS is to help lead the Volunteer Defense. That's good enough for me. GO VOLS!

Outdated writes:

I believe Dooley is very capable of dealing with players and player issues..on and off the field..He seems to have helped Jackson make a good choice for his future..Jackson may play on Sundays someday...

allntl1#565211 writes:

I hope he is given a fair chance to get his starting job back before we play Florida.

cloudodust writes:

Eric Berry said of Janzen Jackson, to paraphrase, 'He's got the potential to be a good one'. Now, it's up to JJ...

OrangeDew writes:

in response to allntl1#565211:

I hope he is given a fair chance to get his starting job back before we play Florida.

Is he not already 1st team on the depth chart?

BradleyJKinkaid writes:

in response to OrangeDew:

Is he not already 1st team on the depth chart?

Yessir

Voluvr writes:

Story didn't say much. Jansen play hard you'll be a millionaire within a couple years.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Sounds like a good amount of TRUST has been constructed between Dooley and JJ! Hope things progress and this kid turns the corner in his life on and off the field!

tree_em_smokey writes:

He is a great player. Hope he stays clean. 26 days till kickoff!!!!!!!!!!!!!

thetrollhunter writes:

It's very good to have him back. Dude's an incredible athlete. Glad everything settled down.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

Jacksons return made me as happy as Hamiltons exit.

UsoCRAZY writes:

He's still looking a little skinny to me, I'd like to see a couple more pounds of muscle on him. Not too much to slow him down, just enough to thicken that neck alittle.

spencer1989#206886 writes:

Lord don't let me open my mouth today, next week, next month, or next year about rap music. I will try to restrain myself from expressing my opinions on it and keep from hurting someone's feelings.

VOLFAN4LIFEgovols writes:

in response to cloudodust:

Eric Berry said of Janzen Jackson, to paraphrase, 'He's got the potential to be a good one'. Now, it's up to JJ...

Ya hes good but the thing about that is I think monte kiffon placed way to much pressure on him and last year after berry left it seemd like he played as if he felt the whole defense relyd upon him and was trying to hard at some points.
With that said I think the best years is yet to come I think he will open up this year and knock some heads.

VOLFAN4LIFEgovols writes:

in response to spencer1989#206886:

Lord don't let me open my mouth today, next week, next month, or next year about rap music. I will try to restrain myself from expressing my opinions on it and keep from hurting someone's feelings.

What??? I may have missed a post or something who was talking about rap music? You just brought that out of the blue,but yes ive read your posts on here and I do wish you wouldnt express your opinions about anything.

Volunatic writes:

in response to OrangeDew:

Is he not already 1st team on the depth chart?

He's slotted as the primary nickel back right now.

MusicCityVol writes:

Thoughts and prayers with JJ. He's gonna be a beast this season.

2012 Recruiting: SEC East Report Cards
http://www.checkerboardchatter.com/20...

bandit21 writes:

welcome back janzen.hope you and your family are doing well.also always remember that God loves you and so does the vol nation...go big orange

kcbigorngX writes:

Opposing QB's and offensive coaches are going to be using up a lot of film room time on this cat.

They're going to be wasting it.

Mr. Jackson is a star athlete starting a game for the first time in a new position. You won't be able to study his tendencies until they are recorded in his efforts against Montana.

How lucky for someone to be able to start over on so many different levels. This one has the chance to become a true leader of men.

Turn 'em loose, Dooley.

Volunatic writes:

Unexpected comment from LKF, to say the least.

bean3669 writes:

Just one of the reasons I believe Dooley can get it done. He is class through and through. When you take heat for not giving "details" about a young man's life it shows true character! I am glad Janzen was given the chance to get squared away and come back. I don't care what the issue was, just glad he is back. GO FREAKIN' VOLS!!!

bean3669 writes:

in response to bandit21:

welcome back janzen.hope you and your family are doing well.also always remember that God loves you and so does the vol nation...go big orange

True that Bandit! GO VOLS!!!

OrangePsyched writes:

We used to call guys like JJ headhunters and it was a positive thing. Now this phrase have negative connatations. Nonetheless this kid will be ringing bells throughout the season. Lay some wood big dog.

lofter writes:

This should settle the question "Did we hire the right guy". The wins will come. Be patient.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say who ordered the Jackson Slobberknocker souffle? Witch Doctor say Montana table for one.
Bones never lie.

spencer1989#206886 writes:

in response to spencer1989#206886:

Lord don't let me open my mouth today, next week, next month, or next year about rap music. I will try to restrain myself from expressing my opinions on it and keep from hurting someone's feelings.

My apologies.....Somehow this was suppose to post to another artilce on here. I have no idea how it poasted on this one when I was in the other article at the time. I am suggesting a removal myself.

spencer1989#206886 writes:

in response to VOLFAN4LIFEgovols:

What??? I may have missed a post or something who was talking about rap music? You just brought that out of the blue,but yes ive read your posts on here and I do wish you wouldnt express your opinions about anything.

Somehow it was related to another article (Swipper Boy) and posted here. I am suggesting a removal myself since the glitch happened But as far as what my opinion is....You know what the old saying is about opinions.

spencer1989#206886 writes:

in response to spencer1989#206886:

Lord don't let me open my mouth today, next week, next month, or next year about rap music. I will try to restrain myself from expressing my opinions on it and keep from hurting someone's feelings.

Sorry for the computer glitch.....I have suggested removal.

jawga writes:

in response to lofter:

This should settle the question "Did we hire the right guy". The wins will come. Be patient.

The jury's still out on that one. We'll see after FL, GA, LSU, Bama & SC.

Howdy_Dooley writes:

stay away from convenience stores, JJ!!

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It is great news for the team and the young man...hopefully he will succeed.

btw..."Fight On" - if you are not aware...that is the USC Trojan's student cheer...one they have been using for decades.

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

well i see you are a beloved Trojan fan...so my apollogies for suggesting you might be using "Fight On" in an unknown context. Tip of the hat~

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