My Favorite College Football Player is This Former SEAL Who’s Never Played Before


SourceHe was out to dinner with his mother and older brother, this not long after he’d arrived home from being deployed in Yemen, when Damian Jackson said something no one at the table saw coming.

He was going to play college football. He was going to play college football despite the fact he’d never worn a football helmet before. … Never even attended a football game. …

A walk-on Husker few yet know is a Husker, fresh to Lincoln after spending four years as a member of the Navy SEALs, Jackson … didn’t shoot a gun until he was in SEALs training. He didn’t swim until a couple of months before he left for the Navy. …

Yet he picked it all up quick enough to receive his SEAL Trident pin at the age of 19, the youngest in his class. …

Jackson was one of about 35 students to attend a Husker football tryout this spring. There are some dreamers in that group, no question. But it is a chance. …

“You have this time to prove that we need you,” Jackson was told.

A chance is all he wanted. He’d start from the bottom but he is a Husker linebacker.

I’ll just get this out of the way: This story is a couple of weeks old. But I live in the center of my own universe and since it’s news to me, it’s news to everyone as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, I’ve been obsessing lately about people who are so over and above average people like me in certain traits that it’s hard to believe we’re the same species. Like when you meet Rob Gronkowski, it’s hard to see his size and athleticism and realize he’s homo sapiens the same as me. Or say, Gal Gadot, who was at ComicCon in Providence last year and is like this luminescent being who doesn’t walk, she hovers a foot off the ground. And I’d probably feel that way if I talked astrophysics with Neal Degrasse-Tyson. That it’s hard to process that on a genetic level, we’re practically identical since they’re these superior physical/mental specimens.

And so it is with Damian Jackson. I’m not breaking any news by saying Navy SEAL training is among the hardest in the world. The attrition rate is off the charts. It breaks the toughest and strongest men in America who have been training years for it. For a guy to make it having never shot a gun and who could barely swim is just being meta-human.

And I’m going to go under the assumption that Cornhuskers football isn’t about to dick around with a roster spot for a guy just because he served his country. Nebraska wouldn’t Rudy a spot for Jackson because he’s such an inspirational story. It’s not Fantasy Camp. It’s the NC Double Goddamned A. And every coach in the FBS would commit mass atrocities for one of the four playoff spots. Meaning the first time Jackson ever attended a practice, he beat out dozens of major recruits from feeder programs who’ve dedicated their entire lives to playing DI.

Again, he’s inhuman. Like he was carved out of a solid block of manhood then brought to life by Zeus. And every time he cuts himself shaving, there’s more testosterone in the drops of blood that end up in the toilet paper than I have in my whole body. I don’t spend a hell of a lot of time following the progress of Huskers freshmen linebackers, but that’s about to change. I not only want to see Damian Jackson make it, I want him playing out his career and declaring for the NFL Draft. And if a particular coach with a background at Naval Academy and an appreciation for servicemen were to pick him up, I’ll be the happiest man in New England. Based on everything we know about the guy, it’d be stupid to bet against him.


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