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Jackson Jeffcoat hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps

Posted Jun 15, 2014

Happy Father’s Day: Former NFL defensive end Jim Jeffcoat received an early gift by getting to watch his son – Jackson, a rookie free agent – participate in the Seahawks’ recent OTA practices.

Jackson Jeffcoat has vivid memories of attending practices when his father, Jim, was playing for the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills.

They’re just not as fresh as the vision of seeing his father standing on the sideline watching him practice with the Seahawks.

“The Cowboys had their training camp in Wichita Falls for a little while, so I used to go up there,” the younger Jeffcoat said through a smile. “Shoot, it was the hottest place in America. But me and my older brother, Jaren, would go up there and get to watch him.

“And I remember going up to the facility with him and just kind of sitting there watching them go through film and just being a kid running around there.”

DAFT IN THE DRAFT?

Why wasn’t Jackson Jeffcoat selected in last month’s NFL Draft?

That’s not a rhetorical question. We want to know why all 32 teams passed on the pass-rusher from the University of Texas – six, seven, even eight times. Jeffcoat would like to know, as well.

And this comparison of his two most-productive seasons for the Longhorns against those of the edge-rushers who were selected in the first-round does little to answer that question:

Player, school (draft spot) TFL/Sacks
Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (FA)  43/21
Jadeveon Clowney, So. Carolina (1st) 35.5/21
Kahlil Mack, Buffalo (5th) 41.5/18.5
Anthony Barr, UCLA (9th) 41.5/23.5
Dee Ford, Auburn (23rd) 21/16.5

Note: TFL is tackles for losses

Two weeks ago, Jim Jeffcoat visited Virginia Mason Athletic Center to watch his younger son participate in OTA practices with the Seahawks, who signed Jackson Jeffcoat as a rookie free agent following the conclusion of the NFL Draft on May 10.

Just call it an early Father’s Day gift for Jim Jeffcoat. And the role reversal also was a treat for his son.

“It’s crazy,” Jackson Jeffcoat said. “Back when I was in high school, back when I was in college, he didn’t really talk about what I need to do. Now, he’s talking a lot, like he’s a coach – ‘You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that.’ ”

Maybe it’s because Jim Jeffcoat has been a defensive line coach since retiring from the NFL – first with the Cowboys (1998-2004), and later at the University of Houston (2008-10), San Jose State (2011-12) and University of Colorado (2013-present).

“Sometimes it comes off as a little much, because I’m not used to it,” Jackson said of the father-turned-coach transformation. “Because he used to just kind of sit back. But now he’s critiquing me a lot more than he was.”

Father and son Jim followed different paths to the NFL.

Jim Jeffcoat was the 23rd pick overall in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Cowboys after an All-America career at Arizona State. He played on two Super Bowl championship teams during his 12-season stay in Dallas – XXVII and XXVIII, when he was teammates with Ken Norton, Jr., now the Seahawks’ linebackers coach.

The elder Jeffcoat also recorded 102.5 sacks during a career that saw him play his final three seasons with the Bills. He produced 11.5 sacks in 1984, and five of his career-high 14 sacks in 1985 came in one game against the Washington Redskins and Joe Theismann. Jeffcoat also had 100 tackles, 42 QB pressures and 11.5 sacks in 1989.

During his 15-season NFL career, Jeffcoat also had 745 tackles, while returning both his interceptions for touchdowns and two of his 11 fumble recoveries for scores.

“Toward the end of his career, when he was in Buffalo, that’s when I started thinking I wanted to do what he was doing,” said Jackson, who has a twin sister, Jacqueline, and a younger sister, Jasmine, in addition to his older brother.

“It was like, ‘Ah man, I love football.’ Now, he wouldn’t let me play. I didn’t start playing the game until sixth grade. And he didn’t even want me to play then, because he didn’t want coaches teaching me bad technique and all the pounding on my body.”

So Jackson played basketball until his father finally relented.

Jackson also became an All-American – at the University of Texas, where he won the Ted Hendricks Award as the best defensive end in college football last season while collecting 13 sacks, 22 tackles for losses and team-leading 86 tackles.

Like father, like son.

“Really, I wanted to be like my dad, so I wanted to play defensive end,” Jackson said. “But I was always the bigger kid, so I played offensive line and defensive line. That was like in middle school. In high school, I just played defensive end and a little bit of outside linebacker.”

But despite the impressive number he put up at Texas, he was passed over by all 32 teams in last month’s NFL Draft – round after round after round after round.

“I never found out what the reason was,” Jackson said. “But I use it for motivation. It’s fuel to my fire. I just keep working. Every day I think about it, because it keeps me going. It keeps me even more hungry. When I start feeling tired, when I start feeling like, ‘Man, I really don’t want to do this,’ I look back at that and say, ‘Hey, 31 other teams didn’t want me. They didn’t think highly enough of me to draft me.’

“The Seahawks didn’t draft me either, but I talked to coach Norton and I talked to coach (Pete) Carroll. I was thinking about going to USC out of high school, so I felt comfortable with them.”

With the Seahawks, his ’tweener size (6 feet 3, 253 pounds) and other skills fit what Carroll, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and defensive line coach Travis Jones look for to fill the Leo end spot – where since-departed Chris Clemons produced 33.5 sacks from 2010-12.

“I’ve been really pleased with Jackson Jeffcoat’s work ethic,” Jones said. “He’s a real conscientious kid. And I’m glad we have him.”

And Jackson Jeffcoat is glad to be here.

“As much as I want to say I hate being undrafted, it ended up well to be here with coach Carroll and coach Norton,” he said.

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