TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama defensive back Eddie Jackson is finding other ways to motivate his teammates since he can’t be on the field with them.
Prior to Alabama’s 10-0 win over LSU, Jackson delivered an emotional speech to the defensive backs.
“Eddie told us before the game, ‘If this was your last game, how would you play?'” Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey said Monday. “We were just out there, he got to crying, saying, ‘Man, I wish I could be out there.’ It means a lot, just coming from him because, I mean, he came back for his senior year just to come back and get this championship.
“I’m just playing for him, man, because he wished he could be out there.”
Alabama fans chant "Eddie, Eddie" as Eddie Jackson arrives at Tiger Stadium pic.twitter.com/tqiYpKxblg
— Marq Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) November 5, 2016
Jackson was lost for the season after fracturing his leg against Texas A&M on Oct. 22. Jackson won’t have any long-term affects from the injury, but it did end his Alabama career.
Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick made the move from cornerback and star (fifth defensive back) to safety to replace Jackson.
While at Tiger Stadium, Jackson served as a leader from the sideline and an emotional spark plug for the team.
Humphrey, Fitzpatrick and the team are dedicating the rest of the season to Jackson. Fitzpatrick and some of the other players wrote “Do it for 4” or “Four for 4” on their wristbands to honor their teammate.
It was Fitzpatrick’s idea to do the “Four for 4.” Fitzpatrick spoke with Jackson for tips on playing his new position before the game.
“He was telling me ‘If you mess up, keep your head up and go on to the next play. If you’re doing well, keep staying focused and disciplined,’” Fitzpatrick said of the conversation.
Fitzpatrick also took on the responsibility of making the on-field adjustments, a job Jackson did so well.
Now, Jackson is serving as an assistant coach of sorts to remain involved with the team and help any way he can.
“Definitely, I look over at the sideline and he just reminded me of things during the game,” Humphrey said. “Before the game, he was right there in the huddle with us as we were about to go out there on the field. I think having him on the sideline is kind of just like an assistant coach to me.”
Losing their leader on the field wasn’t easy for Alabama’s secondary, but having him around drives home the point of how important it is to cherish every single play.
“Just seeing him on crutches, man, you can tell he wants to be out there,” Humphrey said. “It definitely sucks not seeing him out there.”