Jackson looks to fill big shoes in Whaley’s absence

Garrett Callahan

Junior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson hasn’t had quite the season he wanted.

After starting 11 games as a sophomore last year, the Houston native played the first nine games this season as a backup. But in Texas’ overtime thriller against West Virginia, defensive end Chris Whaley got carted off the field with a season-ending knee injury, forcing Jackson to step in his place in the interior of the defensive line

“I mean, the only thing I can do is just play my turn,” Jackson said. “That’s the bottom line. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m going to replace Chris because I can’t.  Chris is his own type of person so the only thing I can do is just be the best person I can be and that’s me being Desmond Jackson and playing the way that I play.”

Although it wasn’t where he wanted to spend his junior season, Jackson believes that his time on the sideline has benefited him in a way that can only helped him as he tries to fill in for Whaley.

“You know, I know for a fact that I haven’t had the season I’ve been really proud of, but I can honestly say this year has made me a better teammate and to appreciate the work and the effort that my teammates have done,” Jackson said. “So when my opportunity came, I just wanted to make the most of it and just be able to help my teammates when they needed me the most.”

While Jackson has tough shoes to fill, he has already proved he can become an impact player. Against the Mountaineers, he recorded eight tackles and two sacks to help guide Texas to its sixth straight win.

Nicknamed “Tank” for his strong build and tough nature, the 6-foot-1, 301-pound Jackson has continuously proved he had the potential to make an impression on his teammates.

“I knew Tank had it in him the whole time,” junior defensive end Cedric Reed said. “I was just waiting for him to have a game like that.  He’s one of the strongest guys in the weight room and one of the hardest workers and I knew as soon as he had a chance he’d take it and he’d cherish it. There was a couple times I watched him, I’ve seen him just throw a couple guys out of the way.  He was throwing guys.”

Beyond the field, Jackson has earned his nickname for his continuous work ethic that never stops.

“They call him ‘Tank’ for a reason,” Mack Brown said. “He loves to play. He’s one of those [players] that has the motor running all the time and he practices like that.”

There are a variety of reasons to like Jackson, whether it’s his talent, hard work, or maybe even his last time.

“[I like him because] his last name ends in ‘s-o-n’ like me,” defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said, laughing. “He’s getting an opportunity and he’s a good football player. And I just see that he is just developing.”