Heading in the right direction

Freshman quarterback Darrell Jackson sizes up the college game
Thursday, August 12, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:28 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

Freshman quarterback Darrell Jackson is an inch taller and ten pounds heavier than Brad Smith. Maybe one day he can fill Smith’s shoes.

Jackson is competing with freshmen Mack Breed and Chase Patton, a former Rock Bridge standout, and sophomore Brandon Coleman to back up Smith, a potential Heisman Trophy candidate.

Although Jackson said there is always competition for playing time on a football team, he enjoys working with his fellow freshmen quarterbacks.

“(Breed and Patton) are cool guys,” Jackson said before Wednesday’s practice. “We’re all down here competing and trying to get better too. College is about competing and trying to get yourself better.”

Jackson came to Missouri as a highly rated recruit, ranked as the No. 17 quarterback prospect in the nation and the No. 20 prospect in any position by SuperPrep Magazine. As the quarterback for Webster Groves High School in St. Louis, Jackson twice earned the Suburban Journals of West County Athlete of the Year Award.

Although there are difficulties that come with being a freshman quarterback, Jackson said he has enjoyed himself and is confident in his ability to learn the offense.

“It’s a lot faster, and there’s a lot of information you have to grasp in a short amount of time,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun though.”

Quarterback coach David Yost said the coaching staff believes in giving the incoming quarterbacks a heavy workload right away.

“I throw a lot at them,” Yost said. “They’re young quarterbacks, but what we feel is you throw them into the fire as much as you can.”

Jackson said he enjoys that style.

“(Yost) is throwing it at us, and, you know, that’s the best way to learn it so you won’t just sit back and relax,” Jackson said.

Jackson has not relaxed, completing most of his passes in seven-on-seven drills during Tuesday’s practice.

Yost said Jackson has shown that he is eager to learn and continues to work through his mistakes.

“(Jackson) had a couple yesterday you could tell he was confused on,” Yost said after Tuesday’s practice. “So, today you could just tell in the meetings he was much sharper and much more like, ‘Hey, that’s not going to happen again.’”

In Smith, Yost has a valuable teaching aid for his freshman quarterbacks.

“(Smith) knows the offense forward and backward,” Jackson said. “He’s like a coach to me and he’s helping (the freshman quarterbacks) out tremendously.”

Although the defense Jackson faces in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills is much faster than high school defenses, he said he was not unprepared heading into preseason practice.

“I expected it to be a little faster,” Jackson said. “I’ve been down here this summer and they pretty much run the same offense I ran (in high school), so it’s been all right.”

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