During a lighthearted, back-and-forth moment during LSU’s media day, true freshman defensive back Donte Jackson showed he was both fast on his feet and quick-witted in an exchange with fellow defensive back Jamal Adams.
Adams grabbed the microphone of a local television station and began a round of faux interviews with several defensive backs, eventually catching an unsuspecting Jackson in his cross hairs.
“Do you know you’re that fast?” Adams asked.
“I know I’m that fast,” Jackson responded.
The gregarious Adams followed that up with: “I really feel like I can give you a run for your money. But here’s the deal, you have to give me a 30-yard head start. How do you feel about that?”
“That kind of lessens you as a man,” Jackson responded, his retort stopping Adams in his tracks, while leaving some of his onlooking teammates with stunned looks on their faces.
While there hasn’t been a tangible scoreboard to gauge Jackson’s progress during LSU’s preseason camp, the playful banter with Adams subtly showed the requisite confidence to be part of the Tigers renowned “DBU.”
“With the culture here of being DBU, I felt I could come in and keep that culture alive,” Jackson said. “I felt like tradition played a huge part in me signing here.”
Jackson said he decided on LSU, over Georgia and USC, in part because of the lure of playing in Tiger Stadium and because of the playing opportunity the Tigers presented.
For now Jackson, the state’s two-time Class 4A sprint champion, is working at cornerback on the same side of junior starter Tre’Davious White. Reports of his 40-yard time — a blazing 4.36 seconds — went viral this summer and seemed to extend the possibilities of Jackson’s varied talent being utilized on offense and special teams.
“He’s a corner, and we’re going to keep him in our (position) room,” White said. “There’s a learning curve. We’ve all had it and now he’s having it. He’s a great player and he’s been making plays, too. He’s going to be a big-time player.”
Xavier Lewis of East St. John is another true freshman defensive back trying to work himself into a playing role, getting an early jump by getting to practice with the veterans to start camp. Lewis, a U.S. Army All-American, said he’s played with the second team at both safety and nickel and has adjusted to LSU’s scheme and the communication within the secondary.
“At first my head was kind of spinning because I was getting adapted to the calls, the formations and defenses,” said the 6-foot, 193-pound Lewis. “Now that I’ve become accustomed to that, I feel some type of comfort.”
Jackson, a 5-foot-11, 167-pounder, established himself as one of the state’s top offensive playmakers during his career at Riverdale High School in Metairie, accounting for 1,637 yards and 20 touchdowns his senior season.
Jackson was rated the nation’s No. 10 overall prospect by 247 Sports and No. 5 cornerback by Scout.com after registering 59 tackles with five tackles for loss. During the initial stages of his recruiting process Jackson favored the offensive side, only to have LSU recruit him as an athlete with the understanding he would play corner.
“I came here trying to keep the DBU culture alive,” he said. “I always looked up to guys like Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson.”
In addition to plying his trade at corner and constantly learning from White, Jackson said he’s had a light workload at slot receiver and expects to return either punts or kickoffs.
“If you want to be an electric playmaker, you’ve got to be able to face all of the challenges that are thrown at you,” Jackson said. “If my name’s called, I’ve got to step up. Anything that helps the Tigers be successful in the long run.”