Lawrence Jackson was the 2008 first round draft choice of the Seahawks and four-year starter at defensive end for the University of Southern California. The 6-4, 271-pound defensive end will periodically blog for Seahawks.com during his first NFL training camp. Sunday he talked about the Saturday scrimmage at Qwest Field and reflected on how he got started in football in elementary school.*
The scrimmage went pretty well. I had some things technique-wise I really wanted to get done, and I think I did a good job of that. There's always room for improvement, but I think yesterday helped me make strides with my technique in a game-type atmosphere.
I started playing football in fourth grade. I'd been playing street football most of my life until that point, but I hadn't had any real contact. But I remember my parents took me to the snow in the mountains - I had never seen snow before. And about 15 feet away from me was a snowman. So I took off after hit, figuring I would fly right through it. But when I hit it, it kind of knocked me back. I hit it pretty hard and that's when I kind of fell in love with the contract of football.
After that I decided I wanted to play football. They put me in Pop Warner, but I only played a year because I was always overweight. I didn't have a weight problem, but I was just a lot bigger than the kids my age and smaller than the older kids. My first year I was one of the better players on the team and I realized how much I loved playing the game. The coach told me that I had a lot of natural ability, and I remember him telling me, 'Hey, if you ever need me to vouch for you to play in high school, I think you can play with anybody and any type of situation.'
That really gave me confidence as a football player at a very young age.
In Pop Warner for the year, I played center and nose guard. After that, it was just flag football until I got to high school. That's when I made the move to defensive end, and I also played tight end. My junior year, I had to play guard a little bit. My senior year I played defensive end, tight end and linebacker.
Defense always seemed more natural to me all along. I really wasn't a great pass-catching tight end. We ran a double-wing offense and the right side was the dominant side. The line would always have guys pulling, and that made my job a lot easier to deal with.
You've got to feel that way about defense. If you got two missiles coming at a high speed, you can't be the one that takes the blow. You've got to dish it out as much as you can. Even to this day, playing defensive end is what I've always felt I was made to do. You never know if you're going to make it to the NFL. But I always felt very natural in the way I can play the game.
I wake up in the morning and I can't wait to play football even though my body hurts. It's what I love to do. Even in high school, playing defensive end in football was always a natural thing for me to do and I'm lucky to be able to do this for a living.