Daniel Jackson finds the endzone for a 29-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. The first of his career. Photo by Jacqueline Cordova.
AMES – Daniel Jackson’s football career has seen two season-ending injuries since his arrival to Ames along with a car crash that hospitalized the talented pass catcher for a week before his high school career even took off.
In Iowa State’s 34-27 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday, however, he played as close to perfect as a team could want..
“That kid’s story is fascinating,” coach Matt Campbell said. “From his junior year in high school – he has that near-death accident and doesn’t know if he’s ever going to play football again – to being injured two of the three seasons he’s been here. He’s had flashes of brilliance, and it’s been taken away by injury. Mentally, what that can do to an 18 or 22-year old is paralyze him.”
Six targets. Six catches.
Ninety yards. Two touchdowns.
Everything that the redshirt freshman has been waiting to showcase is coming to fruition, now.
“Honestly first of all, thanks to God for everything I’ve done,” Jackson said. “I’ve been here for a long time and everything hasn’t gone the way I planned it to go, so having a day like that kind of makes you sit back a little bit and say, ‘O.K., everything I’m doing is not for nothing.'”
Jackson collected 65 yards in last week’s game against Ohio. His pair of touchdowns on Saturday were the first of his Iowa State career.
Across the field, his teammate and wide receiver captain Jaylin Noel finished the game with 146 yards and a touchdown himself.
The two proved to be a difference in the one-possession win.
“He’s gone through so much and I’m so proud of him,” Noel said. “He’s a guy that at the beginning of the season, I leaned on him to also be a leader within the room, because I knew he could do it, and just his dedication in the film room and how hard he works on the practice field, you just knew at some point he was gonna explode.”
Iowa State has been needing that change, especially from the first triad of matchups this season, offensively.
Jackson said not to look any further, and if he can perform consistently, he’ll be a new weapon for a Cyclone offense that found itself breaking out on Saturday.
“For him to be so mentally tough, to stay the course, I don’t know if I could be prouder or happier for a young man,” Campbell said. “Ultimately, that is the win in coaching. Winning today – those are great – but seeing a young man win like that, those are huge.”