All-American Midwestern State University running back Keidrick Jackson was signed as an undrafted free agent to the New York Jets yesterday. Jackson, holder of MSU’s all-time rushing record, received a call from his agent yesterday with the good news.
“My agent called me telling me that I needed to pack my bags and I was heading to New York. I was kind of surprised because I was out eating with my girlfriend and it hit me so fast,” Jackson said in a phone interview. “She always wanted to be there when it happened. My dad was waiting for my call but missed it because he had to go to work, but for my girlfriend to be there and see, that was special.”
Jackson said he received a call from the Jets 15 minutes later to congratulate him. Jackson leaves for New York on May 15, and will begin the Jet’s mini training camp next week.
“Really I don’t know what to expect. What I do know is there’s guys from all over there. I just know I gotta come in there ready to perform. I gotta perform quicker than I did at MSU,” Jackson said. “My biggest challenge is just going in not knowing what to expect. You’re rookies so you don’t know what to expect. The best thing is to just go in there and keep in shape.”
After graduating last December, Jackson said he traveled straight to Austin to begin training for pro day, a day when scouts gauge the players’ skills and abilities.
“I was training in Austin for about a month and a half. Then I moved to San Antonio and I’ve just been working out, just trying to stay in shape,” Jackson said. “After I left Austin I was training for my pro day and I did my pro day and stuff like that, and I had to get the scouts to project where I was going. I didn’t do what I wanted to but I guess God works in mysterious ways.”
During the pro days at Midwestern and West Texas A&M, Jackson had 40-yard-dash times of 4.74 and 4.7. He benched 225 pounds 17 times at Midwestern, but did not bench at West Texas.
Bill Maskill, head football coach, said, “They tell us that if you’re going to be Division II, you’re going to have to dominate and he did dominate.”
The hardworking criminal justice graduate said he is looking forward to seeing New York, but his main goal is to perform well in the mini camp.
“I always wanted to go to NY. It’s going to be fun to take a trip there. I just want to see what it’s like. I don’t know what to do when I get out there. I just want to get to work,” Jackson said.
Maskill said, “I told him that the best thing he could do is to go in there with a great attitude, practice hard, be the first guy in line, be enthusiastic and energetic and let them see how well you can hustle. They can see all those things. The next thing is, is he good enough in their eyes to keep him?”
The Jets signed former Titans running back Chris Johnson during free agency. In addition to Johnson, the Jets have five other running backs on their roster. Jackson is the seventh running back the Jets are starting camp with, and the only rookie running back.
“If Keidrick impresses them in rookie camp and then again during mini camp, he might be a guy that gets a lot of reps,” Maskill said. “Just because he may not make it with one team doesn’t mean he won’t make it with somebody else. It’s a pretty big process.”
Before he was an All-American record breaking running back, Jackson was a incoming freshman on the defensive side of the field.
“He’s grown a lot. He’s been a workhorse of course he didn’t come in as a workhorse he came in as a late qualifier and overweight, missed all two-a-days and was 240 pounds when he got here,” Maskill said. “We scrimmaged every Thursday with our young kids and about the fourth or fifth scrimmage of the year in middle October he really kind of lost some weight. We could tell at that point he was going to be a really good football player.
Jackson would become a backup his redshirt sophomore year and that summer he stayed at Midwestern to workout.
Maskill said, “He really got himself into really good shape and had a banner year his redshirt sophomore year.”
Jackson is the first MSU player to receive first team all-conference honors three times and the third player named LSC Offensive Back of the Year in school history. Jackson holds the school record in scoring with 61 rushing touchdowns and one receiving. He also holds records for rushing attempts at 626 and rushing yards at 4004.
“I’m so proud of him because he already graduated in December and did that in four and a half years which most of our kids take almost five years to get out,” Maskill said. “He’s just a really good worker, real determined, and a really good competitor on the football field, so we’re excited for him and real happy in his growth and development. Hopefully he’ll do a good job and stay with them.”
Additional reporting by Lauren Roberts, photo editor.