“He’s a workhorse,” Van Pelt said. “There is no question. There is nobody in this organization that doubts his ability.”
There were doubters all over the league, however, when Jackson came out of Coe College in 2002, having rushed for 1,702 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior. He then spent two seasons playing for the Sioux City Bandits of the United Indoor Football League, making $100 a game and working as a part-time youth counselor to make ends meet. The Bandits have since retired Jackson’s number.
After he was signed by the Bills, Jackson was assigned to the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe, where he ran for 731 yards. He made the Bills’ practice squad in 2006, and ascended to the 53-man roster in 2007, where he eventually became the first former D-III running back since Chris Warren (Ferrum College) in 2000 to start an NFL game.
Jackson gained more than 900 yards last season, using the receiving skills he refined playing arena ball, and showcasing an aptitude for moving the pile that belies his lean frame and upright running style.
“Unbelievable,” teammate Lee Evans said after Sunday’s performance. “He probably had 50 yards in extra-effort yards. He just kept running and kept playing and he’s just never down.”
When Lynch returns from his three-game personal conduct suspension in Week 4, Jackson’s workload will be reduced.
“Obviously, we miss Marshawn because we don’t want to pound Fred 30 times a game and when we get those two guys back together I think it’s a dynamic duo,” Van Pelt said.
Only O.J. has a higher career rushing average than Fast Freddy — Simpson averaged 4.8 yards on 2,123 carries while Jackson has picked up 4.7 yards a pop on 230 attempts. He’s shed the “backup” label like a lazy arm tackle.
And run right over the Division III stigma.
Contact reporter Jonah Bronstein at 282-2311, ext. 2258.