We are now in December of 2011. Another phrase in the recruiting world for the next two months is ‘Crunch Time’. Most teams have ended their season and coaches have had a few days to take a breath. They will be evaluating loads of film for the holidays and I’m sure they have plenty of film to sort through. Signing Day for Football is February 1, 2012 so there is still plenty of time. In most cases, Specialists (Kickers, Punters, and Longsnappers), don’t get contacted or offered till now through February. Technically, a player could sign a letter of intent by April 1, 2012.
Brian Jackson was offered a scholarship in late October of 2002.
My situation was a bit different than most cases after talking with other Kickers that have been offered.
The team I played for in Dothan, AL — Northview Cougars, struggled during my career. I was apart of a 21 game losing streak and there were some tough times. At one point, I went four games in a row with only 1 Kickoff each game, which was either to start the game or start the half. I struggled to get game film to show coaches. I was able to compile enough film through JV and Varsity games from my freshman through junior years, and I sent that film out, along with close up angles in practice, to numerous MID-MAJOR colleges. This is important–I was being realistic about my situation. I knew I wasn’t going to get offered by the Bama’s and the Auburn’s, but I knew I could play D-1. So I sent my film to colleges like San Diego State, Akron, West Carolina, and so on–MID-MAJOR colleges.
I finally got a bite from Ball State Univeristy. I never even heard of the Ball State until I got the call. The coach had come across my film and was impressed with my kickoff distance and field goals. After about a week of a few calls discussing information about BSU and my upcoming game that week, I got the call that every player hopes for. The special teams coach, Coach Carlson at the time, offered me a scholarship. He gave me two weeks to make a decision or he was going to offer another guy. It was funny because I was the ‘other’ guy at Southern Miss and Troy. I talked it over with my family and friends, and four days later I committed to being a Card.
'Even though I never got an offer from Auburn, it was still extra special to do the opening kickoff to Auburn's War Eagle chant.'
It was funny during that crunch time though. A lot of my teammates and friends wondered if getting an offer from Ball State might have sparked other colleges to offer me, maybe like Auburn or Alabama. At the time, Bama gave walk-on kickers opportunities, whereas Auburn was a little more, let’s say, careful, with who they selected. I never did get an offer from Auburn or Alabama, let alone, another college. I received invites to compete to walk on at different schools in the SEC, but I was excited about Ball State. All you need is that one offer. One note of excitement was the future schedule that said Ball State @ Auburn in 2005. It’s great with mid-major college teams because they get to play in their conference, then go to out of conference games like Iowa, Michigan, South Carolina, and so on. It’s a win-win.
I told all of my Indiana teammates about the good ‘ole South when I arrived to camp and how good the clam chowder would be at our pregame meal when we would head down to Auburn, with it being different than the Midwest. It didn’t dissappoint. Even though I never got an offer from Auburn, it was still extra special to do the opening kickoff to Auburn’s War Eagle chant. We ended up losing pretty bad to Auburn, 63-3 to be exact. But I will never forget that game.
I’m telling you all these pieces to the story mainly because you never know when it’s going to be your time. And you never should discount a school you don’t know much about before doing some research. At first I was like, ‘Ball State’??, who is that? But it was the best years of my life and I had amazing experiences. I will never regret committing to Ball State, because I was able to get my degree in Sports Management, start 46 games of college ball, and it led to a 4 year career in AFL and an appearance in the NFL’s Chicago Bears Camp.
My AFL career was topped off when I was able to win my only championship in my life for the Spokane Shock in 2009. After losing in the 2008 championship game it was nice to be the victor in Las Vegas a year later.
Brian Jackson finally won his only championship with the Spokane Shock in 2009.
You never know what that one college that offered you a scholarship could lead to. Yes, it may have only been ‘Ball State’, the mid-major that a lot of people overlook, just like the New Mexico’s, the Utah State’s, the Florida International’s. But hey, it could lead to a great career.
Be confident in your abilities and if playing at the next level is something you dream about, and you know you have the talent to get there, don’t be doubtful, don’t second guess, just believe in yourself and do the best you can. Everything will fall in to place!
Head Coach of Team Jackson Kicking