LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — College football legend and Arkansas football radio color commentator Keith Jackson is entering his 16th season as a part of the Razorbacks’ broadcast team.
A two-time All-American tight end at the University of Oklahoma (1984-87), Jackson helped the Sooners win a national title in 1985. He was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
Following his career at Oklahoma, Jackson was a first-team All-Pro selection three times during his nine-year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers.
He retired from the NFL to take on a bigger role in P.A.R.K. (Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids), a non-profit after-school program he founded in his hometown of Little Rock. According to its website, P.A.R.K.’s mission is to provide “high-risk” students with the opportunity to further their education by graduating from high school.
Jackson recently sat down with SEC Country to discuss Arkansas recruiting, coach Bret Bielema and more. Below is a transcription of the interview
Where do you feel like Arkansas is at right now entering Bielema’s fourth season?
“I love Coach B. He’s a guy that has a lot of confidence not only in his team, but in himself. And he’s gone out and hired former head coaches as assistants. You like to see a coach that has that kind of confidence. It exudes down to the team.”
What about from a recruiting standpoint?
“He’s done a terrific job of recruiting and getting more talent in there. At times, there has been a drop-off in recruiting at Arkansas, but he’s been consistent in getting some talented players year after year.
“Arkansas has been fun to watch under him. They hadn’t won a lot of games just yet when you start thinking the team’s winning 11 and 12 games a year, but they have been a lot of fun to watch. Especially late in the season.”
What did you think about last season’s 8-5 team?
“Injuries killed them last year. If you go back and look at every game they lost and just say if (running back) Jonathan Williams was in there, is he worth this many points? I mean, they win the game. But Arkansas is not a team that’s stacked quite like LSU or Alabama where they can take those injuries and overcome them.
“They lost Jonathan and (receiver) Keon Hatcher early on. It was just too much. Then you start to piece the team back together later in the season and they played well. It was just such a shock to lose those guys early in the season. If you’re (offensive coordinator) Dan Enos, you’ve got a whole package you’ve put in for Jonathan Williams because he’s a great screen guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield and do a bunch of things. That literally took a third of his offense that he had to put on the shelf, and now they’ve got to try to create something else.”
Your son (Joe T. Robinson High School senior Koilan Jackson) committed to play wide receiver at Arkansas in the spring. What was the recruiting process like for him?
“Koilan has been interesting in the fact that I think he’s a late bloomer. He played quarterback, moved to receiver, went from around 6-foot to now he’s about 6-3, 207 (pounds) and he’s got speed.
“He’s a kid that grew up going to Arkansas Razorback football camps, but I never made the decision for him. I told him it would be his decision to make and he pulled the trigger.”