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AFA football has player at NFL Combine for 1st time in 5 years

The Air Force Academy defensive lineman had 11 tackles for a loss and 6 sacks as a senior.

INDIANAPOLIS — Jordan Jackson is privileged to represent.

The Air Force defensive lineman is participating in the NFL Scouting Combine this week in hopes of getting drafted by an NFL team in late-April.

Jackson was the only player from the three service academies (Air Force, Army, Navy) invited to the combine and the first Air Force Academy Falcon in 5 years to receive permission to participate.

“It’s something I dreamt of since I was a kid and being able to be here for the rest of the Air Force football team and all the service academies, this is a great honor,’’ Jackson said Friday at his Scouting Combine press conference.

“There were people who came before me (from the service academies) who tried to make it and it didn’t work for them. They kind of paved the way and helped people like me to be here. There should be more people here as well from the service academies. So to be able to be here has been an honor.’’

The Department of Defense in recent years has eased the service timetable requirements for those who have the ability and desire to pursue a professional sports career.

“I’m not too big to be a pilot, but I’m not into piloting a plane,’’ said Jackson, who graduated in December with a civil engineer degree. “No sir, I can’t do it.’’

Jackson has so far been allowed to delay his commission so he could become the first Air Force player since receiver Jalen Robinette in 2017 to participate at the Scouting Combine. (Robinette's opportunity was stripped by the military bosses prior to the draft.)

Jackson’s goal here at the Combine?

“To prove that we have athletes at the Air Force Academy, too,’’ Jackson said. “I feel like we’re a very underrated team, a very underrated conference.’’

Credit: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
Air Force defensive tackle Jordan Jackson during the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix Friday, Dec. 27, 2019.

Raised in Jacksonville by his mom who served in the Army for more than 19 years, Jackson fell in love with the Air Force Academy upon his recruiting visit to Colorado Springs five years ago.

The 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive end/tackle had a great freshman season, registering 11.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. That performance germinated the idea of playing in the NFL.

“People had been telling me since my sophomore year that if I kept doing what I was doing I would have a shot at it,’’ Jackson said.

He missed the COVID season of 2020 to have corrective shoulder surgery, then rebounded to have a terrific season in 2021, producing 11 tackles for a loss and six sacks from the inside D-Line position for a 10-3 Air Force team that beat Louisville in a bowl game.

“It was a great, great experience,’’ Jackson said of his Air Force Academy stay. “Coach (Troy) Calhoun is a great coach. Great man. He’s somebody who helped me grow as a football player and as a man. The rest of the coaching staff, everything was a great experience, I really enjoyed it. And then all the teammates I met over the years and people I’ve met as friends, it was a great experience.’’

Jackson will participate in most of the Combine field events Saturday. He currently is uncertain where he is projected to be drafted, if he is.

“I’ll figure it out when you guys figure it out,’’ he said.

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