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Speed key to Asa Jackson’s success this season at Cal Poly
It’s cliché to say time is money, but for cornerback Asa Jackson, it’s a fact.
Jackson’s projected draft position moves up with every tenth of a second he shaves off his 40-yard dash. The senior cornerback goes to great lengths to ensure that everything he does is fast.
“Over spring break, I went up to Boise State to work out with Brandyn Thompson of the Washington Redskins,” Jackson said. “All we did was run 40s for a week. The fastest I ever ran was 4.40.”
How fast is Jackson, compared to others?
Philadelphia Eagles All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha ran a 4.45 40 yard dash at the Cal Pro Day in 2003, while Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald ran a 4.53 forty at the 2004 NFL Combine.
Jackson’s exceptional speed was one of the factors that influenced ESPN college football analyst Bruce Feldman to name Jackson one of the top 10 college football players in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Jackson’s ultimate goal is to compete against these players in the NFL next season.
“It would be a dream to be drafted by the Oakland Raiders,” Jackson said. “But I feel blessed that someone is going to pay me to play and it doesn’t matter if it is on the West Coast or in Buffalo.”
However, Jackson knows there are other necessities to excelling in football rather than just the 40-yard dash. Luckily, Jackson has those covered too. He was an All-Great West Conference first-team selection in each of his three seasons at Cal Poly. He has 145 career tackles and six interceptions. And even with the preseason accolades, Jackson is ready to make next season his best.
“I had my best spring ball ever this year,” Jackson said. “I worked on my discipline in coverage and watched a lot of film. My goal is to not get beat on any double moves this year.”
Head coach Tim Walsh said Jackson’s offseason dedication will be useful come fall.
“Asa will be surrounded by a solid defense,” Walsh said. “Asa’s big thing is himself. He just needs to let the game come to him and not try to force plays.”
Jackson is one of the fastest players in the FCS now, but his path to Cal Poly was a slow one.
Jackson is from Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, and he had scholarship offers to home town schools Sacramento State and UC Davis. He was also offered to walk on to San Diego State. Jackson was also a sprinter in high school and had additional offers to run track at Notre Dame and Georgetown.
“I was going to go to Notre Dame because they were going to let me walk-on the football team,” Jackson said. “But coach Weiss didn’t want his players to play sports other than football and I didn’t feel that it was right to accept the track scholarship and then quit the team for football once I got in.”
Notre Dame’s loss has been Cal Poly’s gain. This offseason Jackson was named to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List. The award is given annually to the best defensive player in the FCS. Jackson hopes to be the fourth Cal Poly player to win the award since 2004.
Jackson’s impact is also felt off the field, too. Incoming freshman Marcus Paige-Allen is a defensive lineman from Sacramento who credits Jackson as being one of the reasons he chose Cal Poly over schools such as Sacramento State and UC Davis.
“He was definitely a big factor about me coming to Cal Poly,” Paige-Allen said. “It’s easy to connect to a person who comes from the same place as you and has competed against the same schools and athletes as you.”
Walsh said he is ecstatic about the positive energy surrounding Jackson and the rest of the team.
“It is exciting to coach guys with Asa’s talent,” Walsh said. “Practices this spring were really competitive and the team is extremely motivated.”
Even though Jackson is receiving heaps of attention, he is quick to turn the focus of his senior season on his team.
“We can go as far as we want this year,” Jackson said. “As a team we have a really good feeling about the season and take a faceless opponent approach to each team we play. It doesn’t matter if it’s San Diego State, UC Davis or Montana because we feel that we have a great team this year.”
Jackson hopes to end his career the way it started it, with a Great West championship.
“It would be great to bookend my career with conference titles,” Jackson said. “I love it here and we want give the program some momentum for when we move into the Big Sky.”
By Cody Boyles, Mustang Daily