John Adams: Yet another chance for Janzen Jackson, but payoff could be worth it

John Adams
Tennessee defensive back Janzen Jackson intercepts the ball from LSU's Russell Shepard at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010.

Tennessee defensive back Janzen Jackson intercepts the ball from LSU's Russell Shepard at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010.

Janzen Jackson is enrolled in school and back on the Tennessee football team. But fans should hold their applause.

In school and on the team don’t equate to in the lineup and on the field. Being back doesn’t mean back for good.

Jackson’s track record is too checkered for that.

You know the history. As a freshman, he was suspended for a game by then-coach Lane Kiffin and later sat out three more games before he was cleared of any wrongdoing in an alleged armed-robbery attempt at a local convenience store.

Last year, he was excused for more than a week of bowl practice to deal with a personal problem, supposedly the same problem that caused him to drop out of school for the spring semester.

The problem was serious enough that his status was uncertain for the fall. As UT coach Derek Dooley said two months ago when asked about the possibility of Jackson’s return, “Every decision I’ve made (relative to the secondary) has been with the idea Janzen won’t be back.”

Now that UT’s junior safety has returned, the secondary has enough depth and experience to qualify as the strongest sector of a defense that looks anything but sturdy. That alone doesn’t mean Dooley made the right decision in keeping Jackson on the team.

It depends on what happens next. It depends on someone who thus far has proved himself undependable.

Jackson has to deliver more than highlight hits. He has to perform with more consistency on the field and stay out of trouble off it. If he’s looking for motivation, his coach is a good place to start.

Dooley has gone to great lengths to help Jackson, which speaks as much to the player’s ability as the coach’s compassion.

But the extra effort isn’t without risk for a coach who professes to build a program on such virtues as discipline and character.

The least Jackson can do is keep that in mind. He owes his coach and school for giving him another chance.

That’s not to minimize Jackson’s “problem,” which Dooley believes is significant. Thanks to Dooley and the university, Jackson has gotten help. My guess is he will continue to get help.

He has more going for him than a support system. He has talent, which has been apparent in flashes in two seasons with the Vols.

Former UT defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin compared Jackson favorably with UT All-American Eric Berry, who had a standout rookie season with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010. Although that hyperbole might qualify as wishful thinking, it also said something about Jackson’s potential.

Berry’s potential quickly turned into production, and not just because of his physical gifts. Even in a brief preseason interview, you could tell he was far more mature than most freshmen. His maturity was evident on the field as well.

Berry prepared for a game and critiqued himself the way NFL players do. He took as much pride in reading a route or diagnosing a play as he did in a SportsCenter-worthy tackle.

Jackson is nowhere close to Berry at this juncture (how many college defensive backs are?). Yet he’s capable of being one of the best players on a UT team that needs all the defensive help it can get. And a pro career isn’t out of the question. But first, he has to make it at UT.

He has a support system. He has had more than a second chance.

The rest is up to him.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 65

VolzsFan writes:

Well, well, well.....Adams called for the head of a Hall of Famer and the greatest and most successful coach in Tennessee history over his idea of a program out of control(if winning 10 games per year is out of control I wants me some of dat), yet he applauds a guy that has committed more felonies than all of the past discretions combined. Talking out of both sides of his mouth is Adams. He knows now what a mistake he made in judgement and most of the smart ones are beginning to understand that Tenn was always a bridesmaid mediocre program through history until 1993 and will never ever see an era like the one the Hall of Famer gave us again. I look forward to the day he comes clean and admits it publicly.

justincredible369#357762 writes:

Wow what an awesome piece of news to get today so glad you are back Mr. Jackson. I know you will be the leader you can be. Best Wishes and GO BIG ORANGE!!

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say as long as he not been to any cook outs at Pearls...let the kid play.
Bones never lie.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Well, well, well.....Adams called for the head of a Hall of Famer and the greatest and most successful coach in Tennessee history over his idea of a program out of control(if winning 10 games per year is out of control I wants me some of dat), yet he applauds a guy that has committed more felonies than all of the past discretions combined. Talking out of both sides of his mouth is Adams. He knows now what a mistake he made in judgement and most of the smart ones are beginning to understand that Tenn was always a bridesmaid mediocre program through history until 1993 and will never ever see an era like the one the Hall of Famer gave us again. I look forward to the day he comes clean and admits it publicly.

Fulmer has been gone almost 3 years now. It's time to get over it. You guys pretending to be fans of rival schools are starting to really look foolish.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Delay your rewards, My brother...All business...No regrets.....No pain......No gain....

RoadTrip writes:

Welcome back JJ. Go gettum!

huntined#565710 writes:

I think maybe Berry's talk to him hit home..Come back play the game keep out of trouble and go get the MONEY!!

Huttdawg100 writes:

Jackson has plenty of reasons to get back in school and on the field. Those reasons can be summed up in three glorious letters: NFL.

Jackson's "problem", whatever it is, would probably be a lot easier to face with a pay check signed by Robert Kraft or Jerry Jones. While Adams casts some serious doubts on Jackson's future, its not a coincidence that Jackson elected to stay out of trouble, get back in the classroom and on the football this year. Jackson knows that the big money is right around the corner.

bobbarbilly writes:

Janzen,you can grab on to this opportunity like it is an intercepted football and run past each of the obstacles that you encounter. You can tuck it in tight and run toward the daylight and the goal of opportunity and a better life. Or, you can fumble it. The choice is yours. I am hoping that you choose to tuck it in tight and run to the light.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor is now! lol
Bones never lie.

ncvol17 writes:

Hope the kid takes his renewed chance and doesn't blow it. NFL $$$ vs life on the streets. Remember Tony Robinson.

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Man, what is wrong with your brain tonight? You can't even come up with a decent troll attempt hahahahah I'd probably be the scared too if I found out JJ would be playing against me.

buzz29 writes:

Good article. Janzen better have his act together this time around. It's not about him earning money, making it in the NFL, or earning individual accolades. It's about what he brings to the school, the football team, and his teammates. If he takes care of the later three, the former three will take care of themselves.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

If Iam not mistaken with Lathers and Hughes gone; we only return one true starter in the front seven;I swear between injuries or graduations we are constantly rebuilding or experimenting on the DLine; And this won't end till we sign 3 really good;dominate players that can play inside over the center in the same signing class!! Jackson's return is for sure good..Nothing wrong with run support;interceptions and the occasional coverage sack

tovolny writes:

WE, and especially JOHN ADAMS, should not be commenting and critizing JJ because we don't know anything about his personal problem.

Adams makes his comments to damper the great news. John, it is time...the Bayou is calling.
"AD UUUMS AD UMMMS AD UMMMS"...I was through here last week...this is what I heard.

I like several of the KNS people. The Chapin lady is fantastic. It is my guess, that more people dislike Adams than Kiffen.

I wish I had just skipped over this Adams input.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say as long as he not been to any cook outs at Pearls...let the kid play.
Bones never lie.

No, he wasn't at the cook out. He's not a felon. He never got drunk behind the wheel and fall asleep at a traffic signal like carlos dunlap. But boy did carlos suit up for the sec championshiip game. He never threatened to kill his girl friend like chris rainey. That's a felony rap boosters paid him out of.

Maybe you should write a letter to urban lier scolding him for playing criminals. You should state that you're on a crusade to fight all sec coaches who play athletes with questionable character. When you're through, go after steve spurrier. He can't decide whether to play his rule breaking quarterback.

CHITOWNVOL writes:

in response to tovolny:

WE, and especially JOHN ADAMS, should not be commenting and critizing JJ because we don't know anything about his personal problem.

Adams makes his comments to damper the great news. John, it is time...the Bayou is calling.
"AD UUUMS AD UMMMS AD UMMMS"...I was through here last week...this is what I heard.

I like several of the KNS people. The Chapin lady is fantastic. It is my guess, that more people dislike Adams than Kiffen.

I wish I had just skipped over this Adams input.

agreed. this is good news. no reason for Adams to darken the moment by stating the obvious. it is MO though. welcome back JJ

drvol writes:

Sounds to me like you're working on the assumption that Janzen's deeply personal problem was caused by him. Lofty assumption, Adams.

bballvol1234 writes:

It is really disturbing to continue to get on here and read this garbage the KNS staff writes about. You seem to find a way to put a negative spin on every story that comes out of the athletic department. I may be wrong but it seems that Derek Dooley is NOT the kind of guy that would jeopardize the team to let one player back on. None of us know Janzen's situation and it really shouldn't matter. The coach knows, his teammates he chose to tell know, and Janzen knows. That's all that matters. How about Adams never writes again on here (being that this isn't the first time his shotty stories have plagued this site) and takes his rightful spot under Daddy Lane's desk in SoCal.

Heads up KNS!! If you haven't noticed Johnny A isn't a fan favorite in Knoxville!

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Down_The_Field:

No, he wasn't at the cook out. He's not a felon. He never got drunk behind the wheel and fall asleep at a traffic signal like carlos dunlap. But boy did carlos suit up for the sec championshiip game. He never threatened to kill his girl friend like chris rainey. That's a felony rap boosters paid him out of.

Maybe you should write a letter to urban lier scolding him for playing criminals. You should state that you're on a crusade to fight all sec coaches who play athletes with questionable character. When you're through, go after steve spurrier. He can't decide whether to play his rule breaking quarterback.

Witch Doctor way too lazy for all that. Witch Doctor glad he back. lol
Bones never lie.

VOLliven2it writes:

Well John At least Janzen Jackson IS...back in Knoxville; IS...enrolled at the University of Tennessee and IS...a lot more likely now than last week to suit up and play for the football team this fall. All else is mere conjecture on your part or anyone else's.

leedsvol2007 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Well, well, well.....Adams called for the head of a Hall of Famer and the greatest and most successful coach in Tennessee history over his idea of a program out of control(if winning 10 games per year is out of control I wants me some of dat), yet he applauds a guy that has committed more felonies than all of the past discretions combined. Talking out of both sides of his mouth is Adams. He knows now what a mistake he made in judgement and most of the smart ones are beginning to understand that Tenn was always a bridesmaid mediocre program through history until 1993 and will never ever see an era like the one the Hall of Famer gave us again. I look forward to the day he comes clean and admits it publicly.

I don't agree with you "bridesmaid" assessment.

Neyland had great eras with Tennessee football and Dickey later picked up the ball. The early Battle years continued his work.

The combined efforts of Majors and Fulmer brought us back to the Neyland level of performance.

As for Jackson, he is our best defensive player and we desperately need him. He is worth the risk.

Those that thought a coaching change would immediately thrust us back into the national championship picture are seeing first hand the downside of the risk of the change.

But its done. Hopefully Dooley and the current group of players can continue to move us in a positive direction.

I was proud of their efforts last year and look forward us improving this year.

GoVols!

Bufforange00 writes:

JJ does not have "checkered" past just because he dropped out of school for a semester. His family problems are undisclosed and Adams is speculating. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time with Nukeese. Get a life, Adams

j_r_ewing3#331989 writes:

in response to Tweetdriver63:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Most people close to the program know that his problem is that he keeps failing "tests", not tests in the classroom.

This whole charade of ambiguity and multiple chances is allowed because Jackson is an NFL prospect.

I am tired of this kind of stuff going on.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Well, well, well.....Adams called for the head of a Hall of Famer and the greatest and most successful coach in Tennessee history over his idea of a program out of control(if winning 10 games per year is out of control I wants me some of dat), yet he applauds a guy that has committed more felonies than all of the past discretions combined. Talking out of both sides of his mouth is Adams. He knows now what a mistake he made in judgement and most of the smart ones are beginning to understand that Tenn was always a bridesmaid mediocre program through history until 1993 and will never ever see an era like the one the Hall of Famer gave us again. I look forward to the day he comes clean and admits it publicly.

is that you gaytaz

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Well, well, well.....Adams called for the head of a Hall of Famer and the greatest and most successful coach in Tennessee history over his idea of a program out of control(if winning 10 games per year is out of control I wants me some of dat), yet he applauds a guy that has committed more felonies than all of the past discretions combined. Talking out of both sides of his mouth is Adams. He knows now what a mistake he made in judgement and most of the smart ones are beginning to understand that Tenn was always a bridesmaid mediocre program through history until 1993 and will never ever see an era like the one the Hall of Famer gave us again. I look forward to the day he comes clean and admits it publicly.

I think this chops you up to 4 different accounts. Think about this: In the time it took you to make those accounts and comment through each and every one of them, you could have done something worthwhile with your life.

BigBadVol writes:

What the heck has JJ done wrong? He has been charged with no crime. He apparently has a family/personal problem that Adams and others think is something sinister. The kid hasn't even used up his first chance. Adams is an idiot. To insinuate JJ is on a short lease is ludicrous. I trust Dooley and staff to handle any situation appropriately. Adams speculation is simply a writer's self importance on creating a story that isn't there. Welcome back JJ.

UTbassdrummer writes:

in response to VOLliven2it:

Well John At least Janzen Jackson IS...back in Knoxville; IS...enrolled at the University of Tennessee and IS...a lot more likely now than last week to suit up and play for the football team this fall. All else is mere conjecture on your part or anyone else's.

Just an aside, but Janzen has BEEN in Knoxville, allegedly, the entire time, listed in the UT registry as being on the Maintenance Staff. Curious, but apparently true.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Have any of you ever read a smidgeon of optimism in any of Adams' articles? He states the obvious, that which we already know................articles full of under statements.

As far as Jackson is concerned, if he can have a good season, then the NFL will be waiting in 2012.

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

in response to buzz29:

Good article. Janzen better have his act together this time around. It's not about him earning money, making it in the NFL, or earning individual accolades. It's about what he brings to the school, the football team, and his teammates. If he takes care of the later three, the former three will take care of themselves.

Well said, and Adams is spot on. All those taking Adams to the woodshed need to back up.

There's NOTHING wrong with expecting excellence on and especially OFF the field. It's a big part of what makes good programs great.

thevoice writes:

Geez, Adams. Thanks for putting a negative spin on a positive story.

PHAT_VOL writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Well, well, well.....Adams called for the head of a Hall of Famer and the greatest and most successful coach in Tennessee history over his idea of a program out of control(if winning 10 games per year is out of control I wants me some of dat), yet he applauds a guy that has committed more felonies than all of the past discretions combined. Talking out of both sides of his mouth is Adams. He knows now what a mistake he made in judgement and most of the smart ones are beginning to understand that Tenn was always a bridesmaid mediocre program through history until 1993 and will never ever see an era like the one the Hall of Famer gave us again. I look forward to the day he comes clean and admits it publicly.

What?! Felonies?!
GO VOLS !!

leedsvol2007 writes:

in response to j_r_ewing3#331989:

Most people close to the program know that his problem is that he keeps failing "tests", not tests in the classroom.

This whole charade of ambiguity and multiple chances is allowed because Jackson is an NFL prospect.

I am tired of this kind of stuff going on.

If this is the case Tennessee has a specific policy they follow. The last notable loss was LaMarcus Coker.

The procedure was established after Reggie Cobb had his problems in 1989 if memory serves.

drvol writes:

in response to j_r_ewing3#331989:

Most people close to the program know that his problem is that he keeps failing "tests", not tests in the classroom.

This whole charade of ambiguity and multiple chances is allowed because Jackson is an NFL prospect.

I am tired of this kind of stuff going on.

Just seems to me that if this "deeply personal" issue had anything to do with Janzen's personal conduct, media outlets would be bathing in his reputation's blood. You can't hide stuff like failed drug tests anymore. This isn't the 90's.

OrangePride writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

What the heck has JJ done wrong? He has been charged with no crime. He apparently has a family/personal problem that Adams and others think is something sinister. The kid hasn't even used up his first chance. Adams is an idiot. To insinuate JJ is on a short lease is ludicrous. I trust Dooley and staff to handle any situation appropriately. Adams speculation is simply a writer's self importance on creating a story that isn't there. Welcome back JJ.

I don't think JJ is on a "short leash" either...but I do think that CDD and just about everyone around Vol football is taking a "wait and see" approach to just how JJ will approach this season. The big question mark is just simply is he here for the long run and ready to be here day in and day out. His history in that regard is not good, perhaps for legitimate reason, but it does remain a question mark. As for me, I'm for letting the young man step up and see if he can begin reaching his considerable potential. But JA is right about one thing and that is the difference between being back and being back on the field. So go JJ and GO VOLS!

j_r_ewing3#331989 writes:

in response to drvol:

Just seems to me that if this "deeply personal" issue had anything to do with Janzen's personal conduct, media outlets would be bathing in his reputation's blood. You can't hide stuff like failed drug tests anymore. This isn't the 90's.

There are many things schools cannot discuss these days because of privacy laws. Especially if someone could deem something a medical issue.

Volunatic writes:

in response to j_r_ewing3#331989:

Most people close to the program know that his problem is that he keeps failing "tests", not tests in the classroom.

This whole charade of ambiguity and multiple chances is allowed because Jackson is an NFL prospect.

I am tired of this kind of stuff going on.

Thank you, Dr. "Insider". Your speculation, presented as fact, is duly (Dooley?) noted.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Why allow Adams to get under your skin? I look at him the same as any other troll.

Volunatic writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

Why allow Adams to get under your skin? I look at him the same as any other troll.

Pretty good comparison, although I think he occasionally succeeds at being funny, which is something the message board trolls consistently fail to do.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bode. I am sure you understood that the payoff was JJ's return effort for the team.

givehim6 writes:

Hope Jackson has every thing stright now the DB position is looking good this year. I can see JJ going pro after this year.

easleychuck writes:

Been holding my applause when it comes to Adams for years.

drvol writes:

in response to j_r_ewing3#331989:

There are many things schools cannot discuss these days because of privacy laws. Especially if someone could deem something a medical issue.

If it was deemed medical, we would know it was medical. Assigning the "medical problem" label to something is an easy way to earn privacy because no one wants a HIPAA violation.

It's my personal stance, but I won't be convinced this is a personal conduct issue until something more than speculation surfaces.

hueypilot writes:

Remember Spiro Agnew's famous quote where he called out the "nattering nabobs of negativism?"

I think most of them live here. It's July and nothing to write about. Sure, Adams states the obvious, but I think it needed to be stated. As for drug test results and privacy issues, how much "privacy" paperwork do we all have to fill out when you go to a Dr.'s office, or when you fill out a health insurance claim form. I believe any organization would be in serious trouble if they made public test results.
At any rate the easiest thing for Dooley or any coach to do is cut the kid loose. He getsanother chance. I hope he makes the most of it.

OwensboroVol writes:

I believe that a kid should be given every chance in the world to succeed in both the classroom and on the field. There is only one reason not to give these chances and that is if he is disrupting the team or creating a situation destroying the moral of the team. I would think that Coach Dooley would recognize that very quickly and take the necessary action to correct the problem. It was my feeling at the time he left that Janzan's problems were legitimate or that Coach Dooley would have taken care of it at that time. With all those things resolved I would hope that everyone would welcome Janzan back and hope he can contribute to this being a successful year.

kletusfleabiscuit writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

thats funny stuff. Big deal if Saban makes more money. Get your puffiness off your chest today. Dooley and the Vols will be proving you naysayers wrong in the very near future. Our offense is getting stacked, defensive secondary will be second to none, Poole will have a break out year. Spread your foolish tirades, negative rants,,,whatever,,,,but the proof will be on the field. As for coaching pay,,,I'm sure Dooley would like more. But being the patient, intelligent man he is,,,he knows that good things are just around the corner. Oh,,almost forgot,,,,did you remind yourself that UT has JJ back in the mix.

murrayvol writes:

in response to thetrollhunter:

I think this chops you up to 4 different accounts. Think about this: In the time it took you to make those accounts and comment through each and every one of them, you could have done something worthwhile with your life.

I doubt that very seriously.

murrayvol writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Remember Spiro Agnew's famous quote where he called out the "nattering nabobs of negativism?"

I think most of them live here. It's July and nothing to write about. Sure, Adams states the obvious, but I think it needed to be stated. As for drug test results and privacy issues, how much "privacy" paperwork do we all have to fill out when you go to a Dr.'s office, or when you fill out a health insurance claim form. I believe any organization would be in serious trouble if they made public test results.
At any rate the easiest thing for Dooley or any coach to do is cut the kid loose. He getsanother chance. I hope he makes the most of it.

Me too.

eefor10c writes:

adams doesn't know what the situation is but he has the solution. Apparently you can't understand why you aren't in the loop. I will take Coach Dooley's decision over yours any day. He knows football, you don't! For you to imply that a less talented player wouldn't have gotten the same treatment just shows your bias and lack of respect for Coach Dooley,

You have no talent as a sports writer and you are biased against anything that you don't approve of yet you are the sports editor of the Knoxville News senseless.

mcgink2 writes:

I really wish Adams and fans would quit speculating about what is going on with JJ. I remember all the talk about what was wrong with Chris Lofton, and how some people were bashing his performance his senior year. Once the truth came out, there were a lot of poeple who looked liked idiots for their comments/speculation.

Let Dooley handle the situation since he is the one that knows whats going on here...

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