owa wide receiver Brandon Smith (12) is helped off the field by teammates Alaric Jackson (77) and Tristan Wirfs (74) after getting injured during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue, in Iowa City, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Canadian Alaric Jackson was more than just a little surprised last week to find himself atop the CFL’s fall Scouting Bureau top-20 prospects list for next year’s draft. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Neibergall

owa wide receiver Brandon Smith (12) is helped off the field by teammates Alaric Jackson (77) and Tristan Wirfs (74) after getting injured during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue, in Iowa City, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Canadian Alaric Jackson was more than just a little surprised last week to find himself atop the CFL’s fall Scouting Bureau top-20 prospects list for next year’s draft. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Neibergall

Iowa offensive lineman Jackson somewhat surprised to be atop CFL scouting bureau list

Jackson is in his fourth season with Hawkeyes’ offensive line

Alaric Jackson was more than a little surprised last week to find himself atop the CFL’s Scouting Bureau’s fall list of the top-20 prospects for next year’s draft.

After all, the Iowa left tackle has yet to play a down this season with the school set to kick off the 2020 campaign Oct. 24 versus Purdue.

The six-foot-six, 320-pound Windsor, Ont., native is entering his fourth season anchoring the left side of the Hawkeyes’ offensive line.

“Honestly, just because like everybody else I’m still trying to prove myself,” Jackson told reporters during a videoconference Tuesday. “(Jackson’s reaction) wasn’t anything too big because I really haven’t done anything … but it’s just nice, honestly.”

Jackson started 10 games last season for Iowa (10-3), missing three contests with a knee injury. That prompted Jackson to decide against entering the 2020 NFL draft and remain at school for his senior season.

“I’ll be honest here, I wanted to leave … I want to get paid, honestly,” Jackson said, matter-of-factly. “But I had an injury … so I decided to come back, and get healthy, have a better year and prove myself to everybody else.”

Jackson was included on the pre-season watch for this year’s Outland Trophy, given annually to U.S. college football’s top lineman. He’s been projected by some as a guard in the NFL.

“If they want me at guard, I’ll play guard,” he said. “If they want me to play tackle, I’ll play tackle.

“At the end of the day, I’m just trying to get paid.”

Like all sports leagues and organizations, the Big Ten Conference has been dramatically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In August, the conference decided against playing football this year, only to have a change of heart and have its teams participate in an eight-game regular season.

The Big Ten’s reversal had no impact upon Jackson because he continued training throughout the process.

“My whole idea on that was to stay in shape, keep working out,” he said. “I didn’t want to make any drastic choices just because things could change.

“I just waited it out a bit, stayed here in Iowa City, trained every day and stayed in shape.”

Jackson has made one drastic change during the pandemic. In March, he switched to veganism to live a healthier lifestyle.

“Honestly it was a big thing for me because it’s not normal to be an offensive lineman and be a vegan,” he said. “I got some jokes, which is fine, I enjoy it.

“”Everybody was on board with it. They’ve seen how I move better, I’m a lot more capable of doing more things now (because) of my diet. Honestly, it was a good thing for me and the program. It’s a big change, but it’s a fun change.”

Iowa offensive line coach Tim Polasek has noticed a difference in Jackson.

“He’s quicker, he’s more sudden,” Polasek told the Daily Iowan, an independent newspaper at the University of Iowa. “I see a change in the morning (workouts).

“He’s got a little more energy so maybe there is something to that. Maybe we should all take some notes.”

However, Jackson said his new diet makes it a little more difficult to keep weight on.

“It’s a little difficult,” he said. “When you eat meat, it helps you gain weight easily.

“So I eat more, maybe four, five times a day. I have more shakes, a lot more plant protein. It’s a little difficult but you have to deal with it.”

While Jackson is a Windsor native, he grew up in nearby Detroit. He said Iowa reminds him a lot of Canada.

“I kind of miss (Canada),” he said. “If anything, I’d say it’s just like Iowa.

“Nice people, safe but more of a bigger city for the most part. It’s a blessing to be from Canada and living here and seeing how the differences are.”

Basketball was Jackson’s sport of choice growing up. He didn’t step on to a football field until his junior season in high school.

“I’m like six foot six, I played centre,” he said. “That’s not really ideal for a centre in the NBA.”

Jackson will certainly have options for 2021, be it in the NFL or CFL or even at Iowa as the NCAA has given fall sport student-athletes an additional year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Jackson isn’t worrying about any of that now.

“As long as I keep my head on straight, work hard every day, it will take care of itself,” he said. “Just play hard and be consistent with my play.

“I’ll see how the year goes, take it day by day … it’s all in God’s hands, honestly.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2020.

CFL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Town of Ponoka and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) have ratified a new agreement, averting a strike. (File photo from Facebook)
Alberta gov’t ‘using pandemic as shield to lay off workers,’ says AUPE

The Government of Alberta’s “attacks on workers” is continuing with a new… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House RCMP, EMS, Search and Rescue, STARS air ambulance and Alstrom Helicopters worked together to rescue a fallen ice climber Friday. (Photo contributed by Rocky Mountain House RCMP)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP help rescue fallen ice climber

Rocky Mountain RCMP helped assist a fallen ice climber Friday afternoon. At… Continue reading

Students Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen says she’s pleased the college is offering students a choice to attend class in-person or remotely. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Red Deer College winter term enrolment dips

Enrolment down about six per cent but mix of online and in-person instruction is going over well

Brett Salomons, of Salomons Commercial, and Mark Jones, CEO of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, in the CACAC's new temporary home. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre’s One Day Challenge returns

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre has announced its One Day Challenge is… Continue reading

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. A young snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged mountain trail on Vancouver's north shore Thursday has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Snowshoer dies after overnight search on Vancouver-area mountain: RCMP

SQUAMISH, B.C. — A snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged… Continue reading

nunavut
‘It was joyous:’ Sun returns to some Nunavut communities for first time in weeks

IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier… Continue reading

People take photos through the extensive security surrounding the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, ahead of the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Susan Walsh
Less pomp, very different circumstances as D.C. prepares to inaugurate Biden, Harris

WASHINGTON — Some pomp. Very different circumstances. Inauguration day is supposed to… Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) and Nikolaj Ehlers (27) defend against Jansen Harkins (12) during scrimmage at their NHL training camp practice in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Winnipeg Jets cancel practice due to possible COVID-19 exposure

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have cancelled their practice today due to… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $50 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $50 million jackpot… Continue reading

A medical worker wearing protective equipment monitors patients after they received the coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination facility in Beijing, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. A city in northern China is building a 3,000-unit quarantine facility to deal with an anticipated overflow of patients as COVID-19 cases rise ahead of the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
China builds hospital in 5 days after surge in virus cases

BEIJING — China on Saturday finished building a 1,500-room hospital for COVID-19… Continue reading

Charvi Goyal, 17, prepares to jump online for a tutoring session she gives to a junior high student from her family's home Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Plano, Texas. Goyal is part of a group of high school students that put together their own volunteer online tutoring service to help k-12 during the pandemic. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Teens tutor peers online to fill need during pandemic

SANTA FE, N.M. — When her suburban Dallas high school was forced… Continue reading

One way to get infloor heating is with electrical cables installed underneath ceramic tiles. Here DITRA-HEAT cables are snapped into an uncoupling underlay that goes down before tiles. (Photo by Robert Maxwell)
Houseworks: Heating a basement under renovation

Q: Will DITRA-HEAT electric infloor heating be enough to make my finished… Continue reading

Most Read