Husker Damian Jackson wins Armed Forces Merit Award

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 8:26 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - From the battle field to the football field, one Nebraska football player is known for his contributions to the military. The day before Veterans Day, Damian Jackson was nationally recognized for the time he’s spent serving.

Damian Jackson has gone from being a Navy SEAL, to a walk-on, to a scholarship player at Nebraska. His journey is one of perseverance and determination. He’s a two-time Armed Forces Merit Award finalist. This year he won the award, becoming the first Big Ten player to do so.

“I’m just humbled and honored to be able to receive an award from the military,” Jackson said. “It’s great to be able to see my name up there and receive it.”

The award honors an individual or group with a military background that is involved in college football.

Four years ago, after being cut on his first try, he made the Huskers football team as a walk-on under Mike Riley.

“My plan was to pack my bags and go to another school and walk-on, and just keep trying different schools out,” Jackson said. “But if you think about it, that’d be extremely hard to go to another school, re-enroll, and try and walk-on.”

The outside linebacker said he had ever played before, so there was steep learning curve.

“The beginning part of the journey was probably the hardest - getting on a team when you haven’t played football before, not knowing anybody, not having any connections, not having anyone help you out - it’s really tough to get your foot in the door,” Jackson said.

Now, at 29 years old, the junior is on scholarship and making an impact on and off the field.

“It’s getting to be a lot more fun,” Jackson said. “The game has slowed down a lot. I understand the game of football and I just enjoy it, and it’s really what I love doing now.”

Jackson adds he plans to play next year using his 6th year of eligibility. As for what comes after football, he said he’s just taking it day-by-day.

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