Up in the air
All-American Josh Jackson undecided on future at Iowa
IOWA CITY — Next week’s Pinstripe Bowl in New York could be Iowa junior cornerback Josh Jackson’s last game as a Hawkeye.
Jackson said Tuesday that he is “50-50” on whether he will come back for his senior season, adding that he will likely announce his plans for 2018 after the Hawkeyes (7-5) face Boston College (7-5) on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
“I’ve definitely thought about it … I’ve talked with coach a little bit about it,” said Jackson, who redshirted his first season and is set to graduate in May. “I’ve thought both ways, both perspectives.”
If Jackson leaves, he will be remembered for a college career that was brief but brilliant.
After sitting out his first year, Jackson spent the next two seasons as a reserve. Iowa had an opening at cornerback after Thorpe Award winner Desmond King graduated, and Jackson won a fierce battle to claim his spot.
No one could foresee just how good Jackson would be in 2017 in his first season as a starter. He tied for the national lead with seven interceptions, returned two of those for touchdowns against Wisconsin and joined linebacker Josey Jewell as a first-team All-America pick.
Jackson’s numbers, along with his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame and his abundance of physical gifts, have left many NFL draft pundits pegging him as a possible first-round pick in 2018.
King was in a similar spot and chose to stay for his senior season. If Jackson follows suit, the Hawkeyes could enter 2018 with one of the best defenses in the country.
“We joke about it,” defensive coordinator Phil Parker said. “It’s a decision he is going to have to make with his family and what’s best for him … if he chooses to go, I am happy for him and wish him the best of luck. If he stays, he’ll be our best recruit in the (secondary).”
The Hawkeyes have lost their last five bowl games, and their 21-14 defeat to LSU in the 2013 Outback Bowl was the only game in that skid that was particularly close. The meeting next week will be the first between Iowa and Boston College.
The Eagles, like the Hawkeyes, have evolved into a program intent on playing strong defense and running the ball. Boston College rushed for 224 yards per game in the regular season and gave up just 22.5 points per outing.
“Both schematically and their attitude, the way they approach playing offense is very similar to Iowa. It’s something that excites us. We get to see that every day in practice so we feel that we match up well,” Iowa defensive lineman Parker Hesse said.