Alabama coach Nick Saban participated in a “Bears Q&A” with the Chicago Tribune to discuss recently drafted safety Eddie Jackson.
Saban credited Jackson for emerging as a team leader, which was why he was selected to be a captain during the Tide’s national championship game despite missing his last seven games due to a broken leg.
“I guess you’ve got to know the background. Eddie came from a tough spot down in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale area (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.),” Saban said. “I probably am as proud of where he started and where he finished as anyone that we’ve ever had on our team. The guy really became a leader of the team, selected as a captain even though he didn’t play in the last seven games because of injury (broken left leg). It speaks volumes for how his teammates view him from a character standpoint, a leadership standpoint, setting a good example, being somebody that somebody can emulate, caring enough about other people to help and serve them.
“I mean, these are things that you didn’t see at all when he was coming out of high school. They just blossomed. The guy graduated. He was an A-plus in every regard in our program. I hated for him that he had a little bad luck with the injury this year. But I certainly think (the Bears) got him at a value, probably, because of that.”
Saban also corrected the perception many have of Jackson’s ball skills, as well as his speed on special teams.
“People say the ball just comes to him,” Saban said. “It doesn’t come to him. He gets in the right place so he gets the ball. There’s an instinct, an intuition of skill that goes with all that. Everybody questions Eddie’s speed, but nobody ever caught him on any of those punt returns either. And there are quite a few guys in our league that can run.”
Jackson was selected at No. 112 overall in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. However, the former College Football National Championship Defensive MVP will have the opportunity to contribute as both a safety and a punt returner.
“He became one of those guys that everybody in the organization looked up to,” Saban said.
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