After Justin Jackson broke pretty much every record there is to break on Saturday, NBN Sports took to the thesaurus to try to come up with the best adjectives to describe the legendary Ball Carrier.
Midwestern – Jono Zarrilli
To say the Carol Stream, Illinois, native is Midwestern is objectively true, but the unique combination of characteristics that are packed into the word are particularly visible in Jackson’s play and his demeanor. Like Midwesterners throughout history, Jackson is a workhorse: just as Daniel Burnham worked tirelessly to piece together the 1893 Chicago world’s fair, The Ball Carrier has throughout his career carried Northwestern in big games, such as his 186-yard outburst in a 2014 upset against Penn St. Jackson also lives up to the Midwesterners’ humble and family-oriented reputation: Pat Fitzgerald says he’s not a “look-at-me-guy,” and Jackson has talked on record about his “commitment to cherish each other, cherish life, and really come together as a family.” And like the great Abraham Lincoln led our country through a Civil War, Justin Jackson has led his University to new heights on the gridiron, as best evidenced by his 224-yard, 3-touchdown performance against No. 23 Pitt at Yankee Stadium in the 2016 Pinstripe Bowl. With his record-setting performance last Saturday, Justin Jackson is now firmly entrenched on Northwestern Football’s Mount Rushmore.
Extraordinary – Maxwell Lee
Something amazes me about the way Justin Jackson seems to do it all. Not only in carrying the football (and our team’s hopes) on the field, but also in carrying himself off the field. As an undersized back, Jackson already has his work cut for him to succeed on the field. Yet through careful preparations, he’s become the owner of seemingly every Northwestern record known to football and then some. And as I was reminded through the goofy, pointless ESPN “Justin Jackson says touchdown with a French accent” segment, he’s also succeeding at a the same school where I complain about my chemistry class on a daily basis. While the Ball Carrier may seem like a normal dude in press conferences and walking around campus, I’ll always admire the extraordinary efforts he’s put into succeeding in all facets of college.
Herculean – Duncan Agnew
We don’t deserve Justin Jackson, but we’ll do our best to earn his respect by immortalizing him as the Ball Carrier in Northwestern folklore. For a guy who routinely tears up some of the best defenses in college football, he is remarkably modest, often saying that his only goal is to improve every day. Regardless of what he says, though, he frequently carries both the ball in his arm and the whole team on his back. So many memorable wins over the last four seasons would not have been possible without the superhuman efforts of Jackson. From putting up 162 yards against a ranked Wisconsin team as a true freshman to racking up 224 yards against Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl, Wildcat nation has the Ball Carrier to thank for countless celebrations.
Workhorse (just pretend it’s an adjective, okay?) – Charlie Sidles
It seems like Justin Jackson has been Northwestern’s running back forever. To put the length of his contribution into perspective, Rutgers and Maryland had not played a game of Big Ten football when Justin started his first game. Since he earned that starting job as a freshman, he has been a rock for Northwestern’s offense. Jackson has always been a reliable option for the ‘Cats on gameday and has consistently kept playing hard even in situations where things do not look great for the team (which is, like, a lot of the time).
Cruel* – Trevor Lystad
I mean ...
*(exclusively to number 4 on Purdue)