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SOU's Jackson Jr. to test his talents in Florida

At the very least, John Jackson Jr. isn’t shying away from getting his name out there.

It’s what the former Southern Oregon University senior defensive lineman feels is the only way that he can continue his football career beyond the season he just spent in Ashland.

Jackson Jr.’s latest chance will come this weekend on the East Coast, as he will make the cross-country trip to take part in the SPIRAL Tropical Bowl in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Sunday afternoon.

“The opportunity (to play in the Tropical Bowl) came about because of my agent, Brian Brundage,” Jackson Jr. said by phone Wednesday afternoon. “It’s a pretty big deal.”

The Tropical Bowl — which features players from NCAA Division I schools all the way to the NAIA — will not be the first all-star type of event that Jackson Jr. has participated in since Southern Oregon’s season ended in mid-November.

Jackson Jr. was in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, area just two weeks ago participating in another all-star game, the Podyum All-Star Bowl.

The one word that comes to his mind when playing in these types of games — opportunity.

And the way Jackson Jr. looks at it is the more chances he’s out there, then the more chances of him getting seen.

“It’s been good to be able to go out and show what I can do,” Jackson Jr. said. “It’s a great opportunity and also another chance to show that I can still do what I’ve been doing for the past year. Yes, it’s an opportunity to get some film and everything like that, but it’s not an opportunity to prove to myself or anything like that because I know I can already do it. It’s a great chance to show that I can hang even though I’m coming from an NAIA school.”

Jackson Jr. spent one season with the SOU football program after playing the first three years of his collegiate career at Portland State. A second-team all-Frontier Conference selection in 2018, Jackson Jr. appeared in nine of the Raiders’ 10 games, recording 24 total tackles. Four of those tackles were for losses, while Jackson Jr. recorded three sacks while playing on a defensive line that was once again the sack leader in the Frontier.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds this past season, Jackson Jr. said he has dropped 15 pounds — “mostly body fat,” he added — and is now around 265 pounds as he gets set to head back to Florida.

The plan is to get back up in the 280-285 range with the subtraction of body fat and addition of muscle.

“It’s definitely a process,” he said.

Even though it was a relatively small amount of time, Jackson Jr. definitely feels like his time with the Raiders was beneficial and one that helped prepare him for what he’s trying to do in the future.

“The focus (at SOU) is on the fundamentals. When I got there, all they wanted me to focus on was the fundamentals. They knew I was athletic, they knew I was agile, but they wanted me to focus on the small things and the details,” Jackson Jr. said. “That helps tremendously because it just shows that I can sit there and do the little things before I can go into the flashy things. That’s what I appreciate about (going to SOU).

“Working with (linebackers) coach Carlton Hall, that dude is so knowledgeable with what he has going on, so it was just a blessing to come into a program that wins and a program that also has great coaches.”

Now, it’s about taking those skills he’s learned in Ashland and applying them to the next few days in Florida.

Or wherever else his football career may take him.

“I just want to show that I can be explosive and physical with my hands and everything like that,” Jackson Jr. said. “A lot of these guys are bigger and I’ve lost weight since the season ended, so it’s going to be nice to have my new and improved and sleeker body showing that I can be as powerful or as dominant as I was the past six months at SOU.”

Contact Danny Penza at 541-776-4483 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.

Southern Oregon University's John Jackson Jr. (93) and Chase Courtney celebrate after sacking Montana-Western quarterback Jon Jund at Raider Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (PHOTO BY: LARRY STAUTH JR)