Jakkar Jackson receives 'slap in the face' from CMU, transfers to Youngstown State
Just one day after announcing he left the Central Michigan football team, defensive back Jakkar Jackson found a new home on Aug. 23 — Youngstown State University.
Coming to Mount Pleasant in 2016, the redshirt junior was told he would play safety. Then, the coaching staff at CMU tried to move him to linebacker.
As spring camp came to a close, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound athlete was listed as CMU's starting nickel back. Once fall camp arrived, he was no longer No. 1 on the depth chart at the position.
"I didn’t come to Central Michigan to be just a player on the team and say, ‘Fire Up Chips’ and be happy," Jackson explained. "I felt like it was a slap in the face because at one point I was the starter and then the job was gone coming back from camp.
"I didn’t come for the education either. Like I told (head) coach (John Bonamego) three years ago, I came to CMU to make it to the NFL."
At practice on Aug. 22, Jackson told one of his closest friends on the CMU football team, Julian Hicks, of his transfer plans.
"Bro, you're not going to leave," Hicks responded.
Jackson skipped the team and position meeting, then texted Bonamego: "Hey coach, I got to talk to you."
The safety reconstructed into a linebacker went into Bonamego's office in the Indoor Athletic Complex, paid his respects and said he'd be leaving the program.
"I worked hard all summer and I'm trying to actually play this year," Jackson said. "If I was going to leave, I had to do it now. I can't be stuck on the bench until my senior year if I want to get in the NFL."
Jackson, prior to announcing his transfer, had opportunities to play for Rutgers, Georgia Southern, Rice, Garden City (JUCO), Albany, Grand Valley State and Youngstown State.
Another school that was planning to offer Jackson was Ball State. However, in his release from CMU, it was made clear that he was not permitted to transfer to a Mid-American Conference program.
"I would be there but I couldn't go," Jackson said of the Cardinals. "Once I read (the release), I was like, 'Oh shoot, no MAC schools.' Obviously, CMU doesn't want me to play them.
"I was shocked because I just told (Bonamego) I wanted to go somewhere in the MAC."
If Jackson would not have gotten an offer to play for Youngstown State, a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) powerhouse, he would have gone to Garden City Community College in Kansas. Garden City is ranked No. 10 in the JUCO rankings heading into the 2018 season.
The coaching staff at Youngstown State often talks to its players and recruits about how CMU runs its defense. For Jackson, it was a perfect fit — a powerhouse program and a defense he already understood.
"They called me and wanted a safety to come in and play right away," Jackson said. "I just felt like it was the best decision for me. Youngstown has defensive players in the NFL."
The Penguins went 6-5 in 2017, including a 4-4 mark against Missouri Valley Football Conference opponents. Youngstown State opens the 2018 campaign against Butler on Sept. 1, and Jackson will be eligible to play.
Some of Jackson's favorites on the football team in Mount Pleasant include Sean Bunting, Xavier Crawford, Da'Quan Jamison, Leon Page, Jonathan Ward, D'Andre Dill and Alonzo McCoy.
Jackson said the move to Youngstown, Ohio will be scary but refreshing.
“I don’t know anybody," he added. "It’s going to be new but sometimes doing something different can lead to a new path of success. It’s nothing but positivity moving forward."
Jackson has a message for all students in Division 1 college football - "If you're not trying to get to the NFL, you shouldn't be playing."
"Moving forward, I shouldn’t be at Youngstown State if making the NFL isn’t my goal," the safety said.
He took a redshirt as a freshman in 2016 and played special teams in 2017.