Niagara Gazette


September 23, 2009

BILLS GAMEBREAKER: Jackson proving small schools have talent too

Fred Jackson has done for his alma mater what Marv Levy never could.

After graduating from Coe College, a small liberal arts school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Levy went on to Harvard University for his graduate studies, and the latter educational experience was cited most in the narratives of Levy’s Hall of Fame coaching career.

But one of the finest moves Levy made in his brief run as the Buffalo Bills general manager was to sign Jackson in 2006. With Jackson’s recent rise to prominence in the NFL, seven years after he earned All-America honors with the Kohawks, Coe College has gotten bit of national recognition that Division III programs rarely receive.

Wearing eye black strips that recognized his D-III roots Sunday, Jackson was the best player on the field during Buffalo’s 33-20 win over Tampa Bay. Rushing for 163 yards and gaining 25 more on six receptions, Jackson drew comparisons to another Hall of Famer, Thurman Thomas, who was honored at halftime of the franchise’s 50th anniversary celectration.

Jackson’s 337 yards from scrimmage in the season’s first two games rank second in the NFL, behind Tennessee tailback Chris Jackson, and is the third-most productive start in team history, behind Thomas’ 410 yards in the first two games of his 1991 NFL MVP campaign and O.J. Simpson’s 405 yards (all on the ground) in 1975, when he was a first-team All-Pro.

“It’s definitely an accomplishment to just be mentioned in the same breath as those guys,” Jackson told on Monday, before deflecting the credit toward the team’s young offensive line and rookie coordinator Alex Van Pelt.

Including the final two games of last season, Jackson has gained 600 yards in his last two games. The Bills haven’t had a back total more than 100 yards in four straight games since Travis Henry did so early in the 2002 season, despite having used first-round draft picks on Willis McGahee and Marshawn Lynch.

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