When you hear the name Andrew Jackson, many people immediately think of the seventh president of the United States. Jackson was a tough competitor and an aggressive general on the field battle. He would acquire the nickname "Old Hickory" from his peers for his attack strategies and unrelenting pressure.
When it comes to WKU football, there is another Andrew Jackson who is making a name for himself for his tenacity and ruthless aggression on the gridiron. While he might not be the original "Old Hickory," the Toppers' Jackson has already made a huge impact in the team's 2011 campaign.
Just two weeks into the season, Jackson leads both WKU and the Sun Belt Conference in tackles with 22 (eight solo and 14 assisted) while also recording three tackles for loss, one sack, and one forced fumble. These numbers have garnered Jackson a lot of praise from his coaches, teams, and opponents. With his herculean effort week in and week out, Jackson has his defense, his team, and his fans believing that this could be the year for the Toppers.
With his inspired performance on the season so far, many people are wondering "how does Jackson get into that zone and come out every week and dominate every single opponent standing in his way?"
"In my head, I just got to show the world what I got," said Jackson in a recent interview. "I know everybody is going to be looking so I just got to come out here and put on a show."
What a show it has been for the 6'1" 255 sophomore out of Lakeland, Fla. Even in defeat Jackson has shown two national audiences that he is the best linebacker in the Sun Belt Conference and possibly one of the best in the Bowl Subdivision. While he leads the Sun Belt in tackles, Jackson also has found himself tied for 14th in the FBS in total tackles, and is one of six non-AQ players in the top fifteen.
One way Jackson has achieved such success this season is his hard work inside first defensive coordinator' Lance Guidry's system. Throughout spring practice and fall camp Guidry has commented on the success and the improvement of the sophomore, and the praises are definitely earned.
"[Guidry] gives us a lot of juice to go out there and do something for ourselves," commented Jackson about his coach. "I come out here, play for him, and put on a show for my coaches [and] show everybody what our coaches did for us."
Jackson received a lot of buzz during his team's opening game in Nashville against the University of Kentucky. A few cameras picked up that Jackson was less than impressed with the UK offense and was not afraid to let everyone know that he thought they were soft.
"I wasn't in the heat of the moment, I just felt disappointed because before the game they came up and had a lot of talk about how they were going to blow us out, you know physically destroy us. They were supposed to be a SEC team, and we destroyed them. That's why I said what I said, and I'm standing behind that to the end!"
There was no doubt that Jackson and the rest of the WKU defense dominated a "superior," BCS offense with relative ease, but despite the play of the defense this season, the team was still unable to come away with victories over Kentucky or Navy. Even though they lost, Jackson believes that the defense is playing at a level that they can win any game this season.
"The defense, honestly I think [we're] good. [Concerning the Navy game] I wasn't even counting that towards our defense, we eliminated that because they have been doing [the triple option] since they started, and we only had one week to get adjusted to that. We are just going to adjust better how we did against UK and a regular offense, and we will destroy it."
As the team makes adjustments for their upcoming opponents, Jackson also realizes that he too must improve his game to help his team in the long run.
"[I need to get better in] the mental part of [the game]: don't get too amped up and do something stupid on the field. That's what I say I need to do."
Even with his needed improvements, Jackson and the rest of the Topper defense know that they are in line to do something very special this year.
"We want to be the number one defense in the Sun Belt, we're trying to get some national recognition. We just ain't trying to be the same old Hilltoppers like we use to be. We are just trying to set some new marks."
If the defense can set these "new marks" that Jackson spoke of, there will be no doubt that Jackson will too achieve his own personal goals as he leads the way for WKU.
"Personally, I want to lead the Sun Belt in tackles, and lead us to a Sun Belt championship."
If he can channel the tenacity and aggression of "Old Hickory" Andrew Jackson of the past, there is nothing that can stand in the way of the Andrew Jackson leading the way for the Toppers of today. He is just one of the many reason that fans have a right to be excited about what the WKU defense can do this season and for years to come.