Edwin Jackson is one of Georgia Southern's all-time greats, racking up an unbelievable resume in his four years roaming Paulson Stadium. Now with the Arizona Cardinals, Jackson is busy studying up for of his NFL career.
In spite of his busy schedule, Jackson was kind enough to take time for an interview about both his college career and how he's preparing now as a professional. What follows is a series of questions I emailed him, followed by his responses:
H.W. One thing you are known for is starting your career as a walk-on with the Eagles. Maybe this is a stretch but I was thinking that signing as an undrafted free agent is sort of similar to being a walk-on in college. Are you taking the same attitude as you did then and do you think that experience of clawing your way to the top will benefit you as a professional player?
E.J. I believe it is very similar as walking on. Everyday is a tryout in the NFL. You have to prove yourself in order to keep your job. There are players all around the country wanting to live this dream, so being able to compete and show your skills everyday is compared to a tryout. The attitude of a champion should never slow down but speed up. Throughout life, the attitude of clawing for success is something I'm going to continue to strive for.
H.W. What will you be working on primarily from now through the start of preseason games in August? Have you already headed to Phoenix or will you continue to train in Georgia until camp starts?
E.J. I just got done with my three-day Rookie Mini Camp in Arizona with the Cardinals. Throughout mini camp I have received valuable information from coaches that know what it takes to be an NFL player. I can say many people know the name and legacy of Georgia Southern.
While here I know I represent not only myself, but my family and my University. I made sure to show the coaches my passion for the game and how I can help to win a Super Bowl Ring in 2016!! I will be here in Arizona for a while. Camp will start in June.
H.W. How did the coaching staff at Georgia Southern prepare you for the next level?
E.J. The coaching staff really taught me how to be a professional. They taught me how to practice and study like an NFL player. Being able to receive plays and put them in action quickly. As a professional taking care of your body is very important also. The coaches at Georgia Southern taught me how to practice smart, in order to take care of my teammates. In Rookie Mini Camp that was the main point they were getting across. You have to learn how to practice!
H.W. The Eagle teams you played on won every conference title they were eligible for and of course beat the Florida Gators in 2013. Individually, you were the team leader in tackles the last two years and were named first-team all Sun Belt conference as a senior. What was the biggest highlight of your college career?
E.J. The biggest highlight has to be the championship game at Paulson. Being able to finish what we started and claimed in the beginning of the season is amazing! As seniors, we helped to continue the legacy we hold so close to our hearts as Eagle Nation. The fans running on the field and hearing everyone chant GSU gave me an accomplished feeling!
My brothers Henry ,Stephen, and Adam Jackson and cousin Anthony Scott ran to find me and lifted me on their shoulders as I overlooked the field of Paulson flooded with Eagle Nation. I will remember that moment forever. Luckily a picture was captured to save that moment. Throughout everything my brothers (teammates) and I have been through, going undefeated in a new conference with a new coach says it all! We wouldn't be denied, and Georgia Southern is a FAMILY!
H.W. Where do you see yourself making the biggest impact on an NFL roster?
E.J. Special teams is the way that I started my college career. Special teams gave me that opportunity to show my love for the game. The Arizona Cardinals value special teams and I can't wait to be able to show them what I can do. Also being able to help on defense is an opportunity too. You never know when your number will be called! That is what Georgia Southern really taught me.
H.W. What, so far, is the biggest difference between preparing for a season of college football and preparing for the NFL?
E.J. Studying your playbook. Each day of rookie camp we received packets of new plays and defenses we practiced the next day. Being mentally prepared is very important. We practice more mentally than physically throughout the week with lots of meetings and walk-throughs. Eventually, not only will we need to know our defense but also the opponent's offense. Time in the film room will have to increase to succeed on the NFL level!
H.W. You are also well accomplished off the field, being honored for your high GPA and even organizing a trip to teach children in Costa Rica about American football. What are your plans after your playing days are over?
E.J. Well, while I'm in the NFL I want to continue helping in the community and showing my love for football with the youth in the world. Traveling and hosting camps around the world is definitely something I have a passion for! Having this opportunity to live my dreams gives me this passion to help someone else know they can reach theirs. That inspiration changes lives in a community.
H.W. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the Eagle Nation?
E.J. I would like to say Thank You for your support and for accepting me as your own! Just know you guys will always be family! I can't wait to write GATA on my wristtape the first game to let you know I have you guys in my heart!!!