Tyson Jackson: Wreaking Havoc on the Opposition

Tyson Jackson might be 6-foot-5 and 291-pounds, but the junior defensive end is pretty fleet of foot when it comes wreaking havoc on opposing offenses.

Jackson, the junior from West St. John High School, has 35 tackles, 16 solo this season, which includes 2.5 sacks, a whopping 10 pass break-ups and 15 quarterback hits.

Ouch.

And what's worse for LSU's foes on next year's schedule, Jackson is pretty sure he'll be back for his senior year.

"I am going to put my name out there and see what the NFL comes back with," Jackson said. "That way I can see what I need to get better at for next year when we start the season."

Too bad he can't do in football what that prospects do in basketball, which is not enter the draft but get evaluated by NBA teams. Glen "Big Baby" Davis did just that before his sophomore year, hitting the NBA circuit for one-on-one evaluations, which provided him, in essence, with invaluable tutoring from the pros.

Not that Jackson will mind taking as much time off as possible after this season. He was pretty banged up at midseason, dealing with a sore back "and it started affected how I ran and on certain plays, it wasn't like I was taking plays off, but there were times it hurt pretty bad. I just fought through it and kept trying to producing on the field. Now after the long break we had I can hardly feel it."

Thirteen different LSU defenders had sacks this year and 17 Tigers had at least 20 tackles. With so much emphasis by opponents on teammate Glenn Dorsey and his late season battles with injuries, Jackson was a key component down the stretch.

"At one time or another every member of the defense was hurt," Jackson said, "but you can't use that as an excuse and have to fight through playing in a tough conference. You've got to bounce back from that."

Certainly LSU did, which is why the second-ranked Tigers are playing No. 1 Ohio State in the January 7, 2008, BCS title game in the Louisiana Superdome.

"It's finally here for me and I can't put into words how excited I am," Jackson said. "I'm anxious, too, but I just have to prepare for the game, because I know there will be a lot of emotion flowing. We're playing in our home state and there's going to be a big advantage for us. We've just got to go out there and capture the moment."

LSU, which lived life on the edge all season, had some remarkable late-game rallies, most notably against Florida and Auburn. But the Tigers had to come back at Alabama, too, in a game they led 17-3 early. Things began to turn Alabama's way when, instead of forcing fourth down and a punt, the Crimson Tide kept possession when Jackson was guilty of a late hit to the head of Bama QB John Parker Wilson.

It might have been the most glaring penalty in a season in which LSU led the Southeastern Conference with a whopping 113 penalties, an average of 64.9 yards per game.

"At that moment I don't know what I was thinking," Jackson admitted. "I try to forget about it as much as possible. It was just a stupid penalty on my part and I hurt the team, but I'm trying to forget about it and move on."

The best part is he learned a valuable lesson.

"It really taught me a lot," Jackson said. "It was critical. And in talking to the coaches, it showed me a lot of things I could do better. But I'm trying to forget about it and move on."