Eastern Michigan running back Darius Jackson will get to play one last time as a collegiate athlete, as he was invited to join in the 2016 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
The NFL Players Association has hosted this game for the past five years to better prepare collegiate athletes for the professional level. They are doing more than simply preparing athletes for the game, but also to get them acquainted with the players union and everything that goes into being an NFL player.
Eastern Michigan football head coach Chris Creighton has coached Jackson for two years and says he couldn’t be more proud of how far Jackson has come in those years.
“He’s an incredible person, he’s humble, he’s got a great heart,” said Creighton. “We’ve said it all year he’s one of our best practice players. He’s so talented, he’s bright, [and] he’s going to have so many options in life. I’m proud to have coached him.”
Jackson acknowledged that he was going to earn his degree after the football season as academics are important to the former Eastern running back, but he also has other dreams in the long run. Jackson wants to try and pursue the NFL, which he says, "has been my goal.”
Jackson will get the opportunity to interact with some of the best coaches and players to ever be involved in the sport, and will have the opportunity to compete with some of the nations top prospects. He’ll get to experience what the players union does, and participate in a week long camp of practices and drills, while also learning traits to become a successful professional football player.
Jackson ended his career as an Eagle with a record-breaking season, having accumulated 16 touchdowns, the most of any player in Eastern Michigan history. Jackson also ran for over 1,000-yards in the 2015 season and 1,597-yards in his career, which put him as EMU’s 14th all-time leading rusher in school history.
“It’s pretty cool to be in Eastern Michigan history,” said Jackson. “Even though it wasn’t the season we wanted it to be, it’s pretty cool to make history my senior year and go out with something really positive.”
The NFLPA announced the first 23 commitments to participate in the game that consist of players selected from all across the country. Jackson will be joined by a pair of Mid-American Conference players in Jordan Williams of Ball State University and Tajae Sharpe of the University of Massachusetts.
Other players that have committed to play are Utah quarterback Travis Wilson, Illinois running back Josh Ferguson, Michigan linebacker James Ross and many more.
The game is slated for Jan. 23, 2016 at StubHub Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills.
It’s unknown at this point as to which team Jackson will be on, but the coaches for the game will be former Green Bay Packers and 1996 Super Bowl coach, Mike Holmgren, as well as former St. Louis Rams coach and NFL coordinator Mike Martz.