By Trey McCurry.
After a rough fall camp that saw him drop to as low as third on the kicking depth chart, many people counted Richard Jackson out for the 2010 football season. Don’t count Jackson or Head Coach Dabo Swinney among those people. With Chandler Catanzaro struggling lately, Swinney said in his Sunday teleconference that he expects Jackson to the number one kicker this week against NC State.
Jackson met with reporters Monday to discuss the change and how this season has been so far for him. One of the first things asked of Jackson was if it ever crossed his mind to quit football following fall camp.
“It’s not in me to quit,” said #19. “It comes from my family to keep pressing on and never really give up. I tried to stay consistent throughout the season even though it wasn’t my job, and try to contribute to my team even though I wasn’t contributing on the field. That’s helped me to stay consistent in practice and continue to work and wait for a chance if it came and if it didn’t contribute in other ways. This is a little redemption, maybe.”
One of the people Jackson said really encouraged him through it all was his dad, who had emergency heart surgery at the end of fall camp.
“He’s doing well. Fall camp was a rough three weeks for me. Even when he was having trouble, he was helping me and inspiring me however he could. He’s actually come to the games since the first two. He probably shouldn’t have, but he was going to be there for me, so that’s given me a little motivation and inspiration.”
Jackson was asked what has changed between now and the end of camp.
”I don’t know if I’ve improved since then. I just want to forget those three weeks. I feel like I’ve had a really strong year-and-a- half, minus those three weeks in fall camp. I felt like I was back to the form that I had in the spring and camp last year, last season, and even the spring camp before that. I felt like I had a hurdle, kind of a slump and have fought my way out of it.”
One thing Jackson did talk about was that he was told Saturday that he would have attempted the next kick at Boston College had the Tigers had the opportunity.
“I know I was the kicker for the next kick in the Boston College game,” Jackson said. “If we got the opportunity, I was going to go in. Other than that, we haven’t met yet today, but I haven’t heard anything else. I’m going to treat it like a normal week, continue to work hard, try to improve, and remain consistent. Whatever decision is made.”
Jackson was also asked about how it felt to be beat out during camp by the redshirt freshman Catanzaro and how he responded.
“Chandler had a really good preseason. I try not to put too much weight into that. He was very strong and very deserving of the position. By know means was I bitter. I was disappointed, but I had no real problems with it because of the way he performed, he deserved it. In times that he’s struggled, I’ve gone to him and tried to help him because that was my role — my role wasn’t to be the guy that was constantly bugging the coaches or pointing out the negatives. I’ve tried to support him when I could, and give advice where I could based on my experiences. That’s kind of the role that I’ve taken.”
With everything Jackson has been through in his career and then dealing with his dad’s health problems during camp this year, he said things have just been put into a different perspective for him.
When it comes down to it, this is football. It’s not life or death. I’ve tried to take that perspective and understand that this is a kick. If it came down to it and we scored [at Boston College], I would have a 20-yard kick to take the lead. That’s what it was; it wasn’t a life or death situation. I have a certain comfort level.”
Jackson did talk about what this final opportunity would mean to both him, and others in his life.
“It would definitely mean a lot to a lot of people- the support group that has helped me,” Jackson said. “It would absolutely mean a lot to me, but also a lot to other people – my family and my close friends that have helped me along the way.
Jackson ended by discussing how he plans to close out his senior season.
”I’ve been loose all season because I’ve had that experience and understand that there’s really nothing to lose. A missed kick is not the end of the world, so it’s hard to be afraid to kick. In the past, I think I would’ve been afraid to miss, especially in a big-time situation. You can’t be scared to lose or afraid to miss. You have to be loose and I think I understand that now.”