Janzen Jackson speaks for first time about absence

Janzen Jackson speaks for first time about absence

August 8th, 2011 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Tennessee defenders Janzen Jackson (15) and Justin Hunter, left, break up a pass intended for UAB wide receiver Jackie Williams, right, in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Tennessee defenders Janzen Jackson (15) and Justin Hunter,...

KNOXVILLE - Janzen Jackson spoke publicly about his withdrawal from Tennessee for personal reasons and what he did to return for the first time since the Volunteers' loss in the Music City Bowl last December.

The junior safety admitted he thought there was a "slim chance" he would never again return to the Vols during his five-month hiatus from the team. He withdrew from UT in February before returning to school and the Vols in July.

"I had to get some things in order for me to get back out here on the field," Jackson said after Monday's practice in his first media appearance since the Music City Bowl last December. "I had to take care of some stuff, but I'm definitely happy to be back out here in the orange.

"It was a lot of things: personal issues, family issues, a lot of stuff that I would rather not talk about in public."

UT coach Derek Dooley was in constant contact with his star safety just about every step of the way during Jackson's absence

"I've been one day at a time with him," Dooley said. "I think [the meetings helped] because of all the stuff he's been through. We've had a lot of one on ones, not as coach to player but just as an older guy helping a younger guy. I'm glad he listened. It took him about 28 meetings, but on the 29th he started listening. I wish I could get that way with all our players but I wouldn't have time to coach if I did that."

Having their most talented defensive player back on the field is positive enough for the Vols, but for Jackson the return to the team means much more.

Said Jackson, "The toughest part was being away from this game, the game I love so much. This is what I love to do in my spare time. That's the biggest thing that hurt me while I was gone.

"I did everything I possibly could to get back and it paid off."

More coverage in Tuesday's Times Free Press and on Twitter.