Donte Jackson recorded his first career sack in LSU’s 33-10 win against Arkansas, along with seven tackles, two for loss and two pass breakups.
Jackson did this at a relatively new position. Jackson started at safety for the second consecutive game, while occasionally sliding back into his natural position depending on the defensive package.
“He calls himself the Swiss Army knife,” freshman defensive back Greedy Williams said. “Means you can do anything. Donte is one of those guys that you can put at any position and you know you’re going to get the best”
“I got like a can opener, a cutlery knife, everything,” Jackson said. “I’m an all purpose tool. I have a tooth pick, a toothbrush, shoe cleaner.”
Jackson is no doubt the most versatile player on the field, having played almost every position in the secondary this season. His versatility adds to the overall production of the defense, allowing the other corners to get better coverage.
Although he hasn’t played safety since high school, Jackson has no problem locking down his man at any position, whether it’s cornerback, nickel or safety. Williams emphasizes his ability to shift all over the field without complaint.
“He plays the positions with a lot of confidence and acts like he’s been there before,” Williams said.
As a leader on the defense, Jackson goes out to set an example for the younger players and make plays so that they do the same.
“I just let them know that we’re all going to make great plays,” Jackson said. “That’s the motto we stand by, everybody’s got to eat out there. When you’re out there, you have to make sure you’re making plays.”
Junior safety John Battle credits Jackson’s work at the position and calls him electrifying anywhere on the field. Moving Jackson around on the field just gives him even more room to make big plays, Battle said.
“He’s doing a good job for us,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “Tremendous athlete, very well coached by Corey Raymond.”
Defensive back coach Corey Raymond has been a huge asset for Dave Aranda’s defense. In his six years as a coach, he has produced eight NFL draft picks and eight All-Americans.
As an alumnus and a three year starter at LSU, Jackson says that Raymond has pride in the school and understands what the defensive back are trying to do on this defense.
“Coach Raymond was a guy that played every position in the secondary,” Jackson said. “He’s a smart guy, he knows the game of football like the back of his hand. We just listen everything that come out of his mouth. You never know whether it’s going to be a lesson or not so every time he’s talking, everybody in the DB room is all ears.”
A combination of Raymond and Aranda wanting Jackson to be more involved in the game and Jackson’s own desire to stop teams from avoiding him sparked the move, initially to nickel and then today to safety.
“It was just me wanting to get more involved, not sitting on an island, watching everybody avoid me,” Jackson said. “It was coach’s decision to get me more involved, and knowing I wanted to be more involved in the defense. So I got in there, got in film room and went to working.”
Whenever he is on the field, Jackson makes plays like he was practicing and playing there all season. Being more involved on the field and being able to move more freely allows him to showcase his talents more than he was doing at cornerback.
“He’s a playmaker, Tyrann Mathieu type,” Battle said. “You can move him all over the field, at safety, move him down at nickel, put him back at corner, where he’s most electrifying at. Coach Aranda trusts him and he’s our playmaker back there in the secondary and you just have to let him go off the leash.”