Lamar Jackson is the type of guy that typically doesn’t lack for confidence.
Yet, last season he found himself out of sorts as a true freshman. He wasn’t playing as much as he wanted, and, like most highly touted high school prospects, he was used to helping his team by being one of the lead dogs.
This year, things will be different.
“Confidence never dropped because I’m an outgoing guy off the field,” Jackson said. “But on the field, I wasn’t on the field long enough to go out there and be confident. I just had to go out there and do what I had to do, so this year y’all are going to see the confidence. I’m going to play with a swag so I’m excited.”
When searching for reasons why his confidence on the field took a hit, you have to start by looking at his role on the team last season. As a true freshman, Jackson played in 12 of the team’s 13 games and totaled 17 tackles but wasn’t one of the focal points of the defense. That will change this season.
“This season I’m going to look at the season totally different,” Jackson said. “I have a totally different role, a bigger role, a more exciting role. So I’m just more excited rather than nervous or cautious.
“Now I feel comfortable in the defense and my assignments, so I feel like I can go out there and just play and have fun this year.”
Jackson says he learned to keep his head down and go to work last year, and it has resulted in a more workmanlike approach to this season. The Huskers will count on him quite a bit in 2017, especially with the injury to star cornerback Chris Jones. In a lot of ways, Jackson’s development into a “shut-down” corner is a major component to the defense being able to solidify the secondary this season.
One thing that has helped Jackson’s development is his relationship with cornerbacks coach Donte Williams. Williams is known for pushing his players and stressing the details, which Jackson sees daily.
“He sees that things are starting to slow down,” Jackson said. “I’m doing little things off instinct. He stays on me though and makes sure I don’t get too comfortable, even the little stuff.
“So when [Williams] sees me getting too comfortable, dancing around, he says tighten up or quit it. He stays on me to keep getting better.”
Jackson has had a good camp. Maybe even a fun camp, and that’s probably a great sign for Husker fans. Jackson’s playing with confidence.
You need some extra confidence to play corner in major college football.