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October 24, 2007

For once, Jackson steals the spotlight

This is just a sample of the type of coverage you will get every day during the Tiger season. Click here to start your free PowerMizzou.com trial



The Missouri offense has headliners across the board. Chase Daniel, Martin Rucker, Chase Coffman, Jeremy Maclin. They're all considered among the nation's best at their positions. Guys like Tony Temple, Will Franklin, even the offensive line get plenty of ink. And yet the biggest performance in one of Missouri's biggest games came from a player that may never have had his name in a single headline.

Jimmy Jackson has never stood out. Before Saturday, he had never started a game in his two-and-a-half year career as a Tiger. But there was Jackson busting loose for three of Missouri's four offensive touchdowns in a 41-10 demolition of Texas Tech.

"Three touchdowns, tough running, he obviously has a real nose for the end zone," Gary Pinkel said. "I was really happy for him. I had some friends call me and say, 'You lose a guy like Tony Temple, what are you gonna do?'"

What they did is what Pinkel has preached for years: Turn to the next guy in line. Jackson was ready for the call.

"Jimmy's had a few games for us," said Matt Eberflus, who recruited Jackson after a 2,600-yard senior season at Caruthersville High School. "I'm real proud of him. I was talking to him during the week, I was telling him you're going to have a great game this week."

That's exactly what Jackson did, running for 59 yards on a team-high 12 carries and picking up 15 more on three receptions. To many, it was a surprise. Jackson was the "other" running back in the recruiting class where the Tigers landed Temple. He has seen spot duty throughout his career, batting the backup job back and forth with Earl Goldsmith and Marcus Woods. To those in the Tiger locker room, it was anything but a shock.

"Coming out of high school, I knew Jimmy was a real good athlete. He ran on me in high school," said William Moore, a graduate of Hayti High, very near Caruthersville. "I kept telling him, 'Keep your head up.' My mom always told him too he would get his opportunity. He's taking advantage of it right now. That's good to see."

In his typical understated fashion, Jackson didn't have much to say about his breakout performance.

"They were a nice size today. They were a nice size," he said of the holes created in the Tech defense. "We start licking our lips when we start running that ball. We love it."

For Jackson, that is the equivalent of a novel. It is one of the longest quotes you will ever see out of him.

"I try to stay calm. I'm a laid back type of guy," he said. "When it comes down to football, though, I can get pretty intense sometimes."

Quiet as he is, Jackson has let his play talk of late, scoring four touchdowns in the Tigers' last two games. Though Temple is expected back this week, Jackson was listed as a probable starter in the game notes handed out to the media on Monday. And whether you can see it in his actions or not, the Tigers expect him to be raring to go against Iowa State.

"He was real excited for it and real pumped up," Eberflus said of Jackson's first start. "He had a real good attitude."

Good attitude? Unquestionable for a guy who has played a backup role without complaint. Pumped up?

"I've never seen that. He's seen something that I ain't seen," Moore said of Eberflus' statement. "I've seen him get mad a couple times if he gets hit wrong in practice. But as far as getting fired up before the game, I've never seen it. Never."

Pumped up or not, Jackson delivered the goods last week. For a player that has for so long operated outside the limelight, he had to get just a little satisfaction out of scoring three times on national television. Didn't he?

"Not satisfaction, man," Jackson said. "We've still got a lot more games to play. We've got a lot more to do. You can't get satisfied. That's how you lose games."

This is just a sample of the type of coverage you will get every day during the Tiger season. Click here to start your free PowerMizzou.com trial



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