Junior outside linebacker Damian Jackson was honored with the Armed Forces Merit Award on Wednesday.
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) November 10, 2021
The award is presented each year to “honor an individual and/or group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.” It is announced annually on Veterans Day.
Jackson was selected as the Armed Forces Merit Award recipient by a panel from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.
“Damian has distinguished himself as a collegiate football player after serving four years in the Navy,” Brant Ringler, executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, said. “Damian’s off-the-field involvement at Nebraska has been remarkable and we have followed his progress in Lincoln for the past three seasons since he was also a finalist for the Armed Forces Merit Award in 2019.”
Jackson—who has been a member of the Nebraska football team since 2017—served as a member of the Navy SEALs for four years following his high school graduation. After two deployments, Jackson’s career as a Navy SEAL came to a close and he decided to follow another dream of his. Despite having never played football before, he started writing to various Division I college football teams hoping for an opportunity. Nebraska responded and Jackson walked on to the program.
After redshirting his first season in 2017, Jackson saw his first playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2018. He made his career debut on the defensive line in Nebraska’s win over Bethune-Cookman. He was also part of the Huskers’ travel roster for trips to Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa that season.
Jackson followed up that season up by playing in two games as a sophomore in 2019. He appeared on kickoff coverage against both Purdue and Wisconsin, recording the first two tackles of his career against the Boilermakers.
In October of that 2019 season, Jackson was one of 33 individuals nominated for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award. He was later named a finalist for the award and was the only FBS player among the five finalists.
Jackson has grown as a leader of the Nebraska football team and was placed on scholarship prior to the 2020 season. He also saw his playing time increase and he saw action on defense in each of the Huskers’ final six games of the season. Jackson is also a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.
In 2021, Jackson has played in nine games. He has totaled four tackles, finishing with one solo tackle at Illinois and one assisted tackle against Fordham. He tied his career-high of two tackles against Northwestern and also added the first quarterback hurry of his career.
“It is an honor to have Damian be a part of our football team and a representative of Nebraska Football,” Coach Scott Frost said in a release. “Damian has brought accountability, leadership and toughness to our team and helped instill those same qualities in his teammates. His incredible drive and tenacity have allowed him to become a contributor to our football team despite not playing high school football. His impact on our program, combined with his service and sacrifice for our country make him a worthy recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.