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Addition of NU's Jackson gives BYU more depth in secondary

Published April 18, 2014 9:26 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Another day, another senior from a high-profile college football program transferring to BYU. OK, that's an exaggeration, but it sure feels like the Cougars are getting more than their share of transfers this year. Back in February, it was UTEP receiver Jordan Leslie and former Oregon receiver Devon Blackmon (by way of Riverside Community College) signing with BYU. Ten days ago, former Stanford receiver Keanu Nelson joined the fold. And Thursday, the Cougars landed Nebraska defensive back Harvey Jackson, who signed a scholarship agreement and will join the team this summer to prepare for the 2014 season. Like Nelson and Leslie, Jackson will be immediately eligible to play this fall. "Harvey is an experienced player and a mature individual with excellent character," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a school news release. "He will join our program after graduating in construction management with a business minor. He is a great fit for BYU on and off the field." Here's more on Jackson's situation from Thursday's online report in The Salt Lake Tribune. A 6-foot-2, 210-pound safety, Jackson played in double-digit games each of the past three seasons for the Cornhuskers with 35 total games played and four starts. He made 33 tackles in 10 games as a junior, including three starts, while totaling 54 tackles overall in his three seasons. Jackson received both Academic All-Big Ten and Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll accolades while at Nebraska.

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So where will Jackson fit in at BYU? Obviously, he has the experience necessary to compete for one of the starting safety spots. Senior Craig Bills, a two-year starter, will presumably move over to strong safety, the position he played in spring camp. Robertson Daniel, a cornerback in 2013 after transferring from De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif., will probably compete with Jackson for the starting free safety spot. The Cougars will probably play a lot of nickel to take advantage of their depth in the defensive backfield; Dallin Leavitt, Kai Nacua, Skye PoVey, Notre Dame transfer Chris Badger and incoming freshman Kavika Fonua will also be in the mix.

Two other transfers — Colorado State's Drew Reilly and Hawaii's Mike Wadsworth — could also contribute. It very well could be the best overall group of safeties BYU has ever had, although replacing Daniel Sorensen will be a monumental task.

I asked Bills a few weeks ago about which fellow safety he's most comfortable playing with back there."All of them," he said. "We have kind of rotated. Rob [Daniel] has played with me this spring. Sky [PoVey], Dallin [Leavitt], Kai [Nacua], [Chris] Badger. There are a lot of guys that are back there. We have a special chemistry this year in the DB room. In year's past, we had that too. But for some reason, a lot to the guys, they just know how the system works now, and we have good chemistry. So it was fun playing with each and every one of those guys that I just mentioned." Most of the attention in spring camp was on the offense and its improvement in the passing game. How did the defense do? "The goals we had were about being physical," Bills said. "When we had an opportunity we did it. We were physical. Just being enthusiastic when we made plays, and we did that. We focused on turnovers, and in spring scrimmage we forced turnovers. We were plus-four in turnovers, so those are things that we had talked about in the beginning of spring that we wanted to focus on, and I think that we met a lot of those. Obviously there is a lot other things that we need to focus on, too. But it was good."