Jackson Continues to Corral Preseason Awards
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- The trophy case for Cal Poly senior-to-be cornerback Asa Jackson continues to expand despite the fact the 2011 football season has yet to begin.
Jackson, who on Monday was named to The Sports Network's Buck Buchanan Award watch list, has earned first-team honors on The Sports Network's 2011 Fathead.com Preseason FCS All-America Team.
Jackson, the lone Mustang on the three teams, has compiled career numbers of 145 total tackles (106 solo), 25 pass breakups and six interceptions at Cal Poly. He was the Great West Conference Freshman Player of the Year in 2008 and is a three-time All-Great West Conference first-team selection.
In June, Jackson was listed as one of the top 10 returning defensive backs for the 2011 season by The Sports Network. Jackson (Christian Brothers High School, Sacramento, Calif.) will start at cornerback for the fourth straight year this fall. He had 55 tackles (40 solo), two interceptions and nine pass breakups last fall and averaged 12.6 yards on 17 punt returns.
Jackson also has been among the nation's top punt returners the last two years. In 2009 he broke the school record with a 15.5 average per return and he finished 14th in the nation a year ago with his 12.6 average on 17 returns. Jackson's career punt return average of 13.83 yards per game is a school record as well.
"In my 25 years of coaching, he's the best football player at his position," third-year Mustang head coach Tim Walsh said of Jackson, who earned third-team Sports Network All-American honors last fall.
Last Sunday, Jackson was named to the College Football Performance Awards preseason list for punt returners, joining Mark Rodgers (running backs and kick returners) and Gavin Cooper (defensive linemen).
Last week, Jackson also was named to the College Sports Madness FCS Preseason All-American Third Team. Lindy's also selected All-FCS preseason teams and Jackson was the lone Mustang honored on the second defensive team.
Earlier this summer, Jackson was named as an honorable mention on Consensus Draft Services' 2011 Preseason Football Championship Subdivision All-American teams, and he was placed on a list of the 10 best non-Football Bowl Subdivision players in the country by ESPN college football writer Bruce Feldman.
The Buck Buchanan Award is presented annually to the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Cal Poly defensive players captured an unprecedented three straight Buck Buchanan Awards in the mid-2000s. Linebacker Jordan Beck earned the award in 2004, followed by defensive end Chris Gocong in 2005 and linebacker Kyle Shotwell in 2006.
In other Mustang football news:
• Jackson and four other Mustangs were named to Phil Steele's 2011 Preseason All-Great West Conference first team. Jackson was listed as both a defensive back and punt return specialist.
The others are fullback Jake Romanelli, defensive end Gavin Cooper, linebacker Kenneth Jackson and kick return specialist Mark Rodgers.
Romanelli rushed for 459 yards and eight touchdowns last fall and is 23 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark for career rushing yards. Cooper notched 39 tackles and six sacks while Kenneth Jackson recorded 67 tackles. Both Cooper and Jackson logged 10 tackles for lost yardage.
In addition to his 882 rushing yards, 20 receptions for 208 yards and 11 total touchdowns, Rodgers also averaged 27.4 yards on 33 kickoff returns, finishing 11th in the nation in average per kickoff return.
Rodgers was placed on the second team on offense, as were offensive lineman Scott Winnewisser and wide receiver Jarred Houston.
Phil Steele's Magazine also released its preseason All-American teams. Romanelli made the third team on offense while Asa Jackson landed on the second team on defense as well as the fourth team on special teams. Cooper is a fourth-team selection on defense.
• Cal Poly was not selected in Phil Steele's preseason top-40 poll this week.
William & Mary drew the No. 1 ranking, followed by defending FCS national champion Eastern Washington and Georgia Southern. Montana is No. 12, Southern Utah No. 24 and UC Davis No. 38.
Cal Poly is ranked as high as No. 11 by SouthernPigskin.com. The Mustangs also are No. 13 in a preseason poll conducted by FCS Now (www.fcsnow.com) and No. 20 by AnyGivenSaturday.com. Cal Poly was not ranked by Athlon, Sporting News and Lindy's.
The Sports Network media poll as well as the FCS Coaches Poll are expected to be released in late August. A year ago, Cal Poly finished No. 23 in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 24 in The Sports Network Media Poll after compiling a 7-4 record.
The Mustangs open fall camp August 8 in preparation for their 2011 season opener Sept. 3 at San Diego State.