Jackson making most of starting opportunity

Jackson making most of starting opportunity

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

A former walk-on for the SIU football team has gone from a backup with no stats to one of the top defenders in the Missouri Valley Football Conference this season. 

Markese Jackson redshirted in 2013 before playing in eight games with no stats at outside linebacker his redshirt freshman year last season. 

This season, the sophomore inside linebacker has earned a scholarship and is fifth in the MVFC with 10 tackles per game.

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Junior inside linebacker Chase Allen and sophomore safety Kenny James are tied for third at 11.3. 

Jackson said he does not pay attention to the numbers. 

“I’m just out here trying to earn these guys’ trust,” he said. “It feels great to have a scholarship, but there’s more work to be done. I can’t be complacent.” 

Jackson replaced former inside linebacker Jordan Poole, who started all 12 games last season and was fourth on the team with 74 tackles. Jackson has 80 tackles in eight. 

Allen said Jackson had a smooth transition from backup outside linebacker to starting inside linebacker. 

“He’s very coachable,” Allen said. “You can see [inside linebackers] coach [Todd] Auer tell him something, and he fixes it right away. I think we both have a good understanding of the defense. This is probably the best group we’ve had at middle linebacker.” 

Auer said Jackson, who was named to the MVFC Academic Honor Roll in 2013, brings an element of intelligence to the position. 

“He transitioned about as fast as anybody I’ve had who moved to inside linebacker,” Auer said. “There’s quite a bit of difference. You’re farther off the ball. You’ve got to be a field general and have more responsibilities.” 

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307

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