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Finishing strong

Jackson renews passion for game at Weber

Lynzell Jackson, left, here in action this season, is looking to conclude his collegiate career with a big season.
Lynzell Jackson, left, here in action this season, is looking to conclude his collegiate career with a big season.
Brian Nicholson

OGDEN — When Lynzell Jackson arrived on the campus of the University of Utah in 2001, the possibilities of football glory seemed endless.

Then Ron McBride, his coach and father figure, was fired following the 2002 season. He struggled in school and on the field during the Urban Meyer era, even to the point he lost his scholarship. His college football career seemed destined to end in disappointment.

Then McBride was hired at Weber State, and the possibilities for the 6- foot-3, 200-pound Jackson seem bigger than ever.

Through four games this season, Jackson is the leading receiver for the Wildcats with 18 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown. His biggest game came at Fresno State, when he snagged six passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. The senior helped the 'Cats to their first Big Sky win over Northern Arizona last week. His maturity, leadership and athletic presence on the field have been just what the Weber State receiving corps needed.

"His strength is him," said Henry Lusk, Weber State receivers coach. "He always works hard and plays through pain. He has big hands and long arms. He's the wheel that keeps the truck running smooth. We would be average without him. He only knows one way to play — the right way. He's special."

Lusk said Jackson reminds him of former Ute receiver Kevin Dyson.

"He's tall, thin and not as fast (as Dyson was), but he has the skills to be that good," Lusk said. "As an ex-pro athlete, I think he has a chance to play at the next level. I've been blessed as a coach to have him. He's got it all."

Jackson is one of a handful of players to transfer to Weber State and play their senior season for McBride. Jackson was originally recruited to Utah by McBride in 2001. Given the circumstances he was under at the U., Jackson's decision to join his old coach was not difficult.

"I know how wonderful a person and coach he is," Jackson said. "When he was let go it really took a toll on me as a student-athlete because he's been a father figure to me. Once I heard he was coming to Weber State, I thought it would be better for me to transfer."

Besides being a father figure, McBride has been a football mentor to Jackson, helping him learn the fundamental X's and O's of the game.

Jackson has only been playing football since his junior year of high school in Tempe, Ariz. He was originally an all-state athlete in basketball and track and field, with his name on a few school records. He only went out for football after being coaxed by his coaches. It was his athletic ability that caught McBride's eye.

"The guy is gifted," McBride said. "If anybody deserves to have a good final year of college football, it's this kid because his years at Utah were, in a way, wasted because he wasn't as productive as he could have been. Hopefully now he can do the things he's always wanted to do."

Jackson's career at Utah can be summed up with a few statistics. In 2002, he played in nine games, caught three passes for 34 yards and a touchdown. In 2003, he played in six games and had one solo tackle.

He did not play in 2004. He felt lost in the mix. At one point, he even talked to former Utah coach Rick Majerus about walking on the basketball team.

"I struggled," Jackson said. "When Mac left, I didn't really have anyone who could teach me football. I was just out being an athlete, running around."

But when McBride became Weber State's football coach, Jackson was one of the first people he thought of. He was sure he could use a receiver with 4.55 40-yard dash speed and a vertical leap of 39 inches.

A release from Utah was secured and all the academic arrangements were made.

Weber State quarterback Ian Pizarro is glad Jackson is a Wildcat.

"He brings leadership to the receivers, even though he has only been here (since August), he came from Utah and already people look up to him," Pizarro said. "He came in here and made an impact right away."

In the game against Fresno State, Lusk said Jackson could do no wrong against one of the best defensive secondaries in college football. "He was a one-man show," Lusk said. "He ran the wrong route and caught a ball."

On that particular play, Jackson said he missed the call in the huddle but didn't want to get in trouble, so he ad-libbed.

"I just gave my defender a move and ran across the middle because I didn't know what else to do. I saw Ian give me a look like, 'That's not what you're supposed to be doing,' so I had to make the play because I didn't want to get chewed out later on. It worked out."

All Jackson wants to do this season is help the Wildcats win. He has no personal goals. After football season, he thinks it would be fun to see if basketball coach Joe Cravens would let him play hoops for Weber State. He would love an opportunity to play professional football, but if not, he can picture himself as a counselor who works with troubled youths.

JACKSON FILE

Name: Lynzell Jackson

Class: Senior

Height: 6-3 Weight: 200

Hometown: Tempe, Ariz.

2005 stats: Jackson has 18 catches for 272 yards and a TD in four games.