Former NFL player Tyson Jackson returns to Edgard, inspires next generation

Published 3:32 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023

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EDGARD — Before Tyson Jackson was the third pick overall in the 2009 NFL draft, he played under Friday night lights at West St. John High School in Edgard. Jackson returned home to inspire the next generation of Rams August 25 during the first-ever Tyson Jackson jamboree.

“When you talk about Edgard, it’s all about hard work. A lot of these people don’t shy away from hard work,” Jackson said. “I’m very thankful. I’m humbled and honored to be back around family and friends. There’s all this good energy.”

Jackson, who lives in Atlanta, added that he was thrilled to be “back around the good food again.”

As a two-way lineman for West St. John, Jackson helped the Rams claim back-to-back Class 1A State titles in 2003 and 2004. He was named the All-State Defensive Player of the Year during his senior season in 2004.

During his senior year, Jackson compiled 84 tackles and 16 sacks. He earned all-parish honors in football and also devoted time to the basketball court.

“I played both sides of the ball. I think that helped me because, when I went to college, I was able to understand both sides of the ball,” Jackson said.

Faced with offers from LSU, Oklahoma State and Colorado, Jackson ultimately decided to stay close to home and become a Tiger. As a red shirt freshman, he recorded 13 tackles and fought his way onto the Freshman All-SEC team.

Jackson was a second-team All-SEC athlete as a sophomore. By this time, he was starting for the Tigers at left defensive end. With more time on the field, he collected 37 tackles, 13 of which were solos. He also had 8.5 sacks, recovered a fumble, and caught an interception. As a junior, Jackson started in all but one game during LSU’s 2007 season, totaling 36 tackles. Another 36 tackles during his senior year brought his college career total to 122 tackles.

Jackson was the third pick overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft. After five years with the Chiefs, he moved onto another multi-million-dollar NFL contract in 2014, this time with the Atlanta Falcons.

While his hometown gave him grief for joining the Dirty Birds, the community still beamed with pride upon seeing Jackson face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

Jackson’s mother still works at West St. John, and Principal Rayven Calloway was thrilled to welcome him home with a jamboree named in his honor as West St. John hosted Young Audience.

“I’m excited for him to be back here. This is our second jamboree that we’ve hosted. Tyson Jackson means so much to this community, and it’s exciting to have so many people coming to Edgard and to see this much energy back in Edgard. We are getting the excitement back, the fans back,” Calloway said.

First-year WSJ Coach Derron Thomas was excited to put a face to a name.

“Everyone in Edgard knows him,” Thomas said. “He’s a big name. One of the first national champions and first round picks (from this area). We’ve had him around for the kids to meet him and just to show him what we’re trying to do here to change the program.”

Jackson was impressed by Thomas’ efforts to quickly grow the program from 17 guys in the Spring to a full team of more than 40 players by August. Looking at the kids on the field, Jackson was reminded of the camaraderie that surrounded him during his senior year at West St. John.

He offered the following advice to the young athletes on this year’s team:

“Embrace all of this,” he said. “This is the best time of your life. You are able to compete, come out here and have fun, and do a lot of things that other people in this country wish they could do.”