Willie Jackson
No. 80, 88, 83
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Born: (1971-08-16) August 16, 1971 (age 49)
Gainesville, Florida
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:212 lb (96 kg)
Career information
High school:Gainesville (FL) P.K. Yonge
College:Florida
NFL Draft:1994 / Round: 4 / Pick: 109
Career history
As player:
* Dallas Cowboys ( 1994)
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As coach:
* Orlando Apollos (2019)
Wide receivers coach
Career highlights and awards
* SEC Championship (1991, 1993)
Career NFL statistics
Games played:113
Games started:39
Receptions:284
Receiving yards:3,641
Touchdowns:24
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Willie Bernard Jackson, Jr. (born August 16, 1971) is an American professional football coach and former wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL). He previously played for the Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins. He played college football at the University of Florida. As a coach, he was the wide receivers coach for the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football (AAF)

Early years[edit | edit source]

Jackson was born in Gainesville, Florida in 1971.[1] He attended P. K. Yonge High School in Gainesville,[2] where he was standout high school football player for the P. K. Yonge Blue Wave.

He played as a quarterback, running back, wingback and defensive back. He received All-state honors as a senior, rushing for 427 yards and making 27 receptions.

College career[edit | edit source]

Jackson accepted a football scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he played for coach Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators football team from 1990 to 1993.[3] After being redshirted, he appeared in 5 games as a freshman but did not record a reception.

As a sophomore, he posted 51 receptions (second in the conference) for 725 yards and 10 touchdowns (led the conference and tied for the second most ever in school history). Against Auburn University he had career-highs of 12 receptions (tied for the second most ever in school history) and 157 yards. Against the University of Georgia, he became the fifth player in school history to make 3 touchdown receptions in one game. In the 1992 Sugar Bowl against the University of Notre Dame, he had the second best total yardage in Gators bowl history, with 8 receptions for 148 yards.

As a junior, he had one of the best receiving seasons in school history, posting 62 receptions (led the conference and were the third most ever in school history), 772 yards (led the conference and were the fifth most ever in school history) and 8 touchdowns, including a career-high 70-yard touchdown reception in the SEC Championship game against the University of Alabama.

As a senior, he started only 9 games and missed the game against the University of Tennessee with a sprained left knee. He finished second on the team with 49 receptions for 675 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Jackson led the team in receiving in 1991 and 1992, and was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection in 1992, and an honorable mention All-American in 1991, 1992 and 1993.[3] Memorably, he had 148 receiving yards against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 1992 Sugar Bowl and 130 yards against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the 1993 Sugar Bowl.[3]

Jackson finished his college career with 162 receptions (second in school history) for 2,172 yards (second in school history) and twenty-four touchdowns—still fifth on the Gators' all-time receiving yardage list.[3] He also walked-on to the Florida Gators men's basketball team in the 1989-90 season, averaging 3 points per game and making 20 steals.

He graduated from Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications in 1993, and was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 2008.[4][5]

Professional career[edit | edit source]

Jackson was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round (109th pick overall) of the 1994 NFL Draft.[6] After being inactive during all of the 1994 season, he asked the team to leave him unprotected in the 1995 NFL Expansion Draft, so he could get an opportunity to play in another place and not be a reserve behind Michael Irvin.[7]

In 1995, the NFL's two new expansion teams, the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, participated in the 1995 NFL Expansion Draft, an opportunity to pick available players from the rosters of the existing NFL teams. The Jaguars picked Jackson from the Cowboys' unprotected list as the twenty-first overall pick in the expansion draft, and he played for the Jaguars for the following three seasons from 1995 to 1997, compiling 103 catches for 1,281 yards and ten touchdowns.[8] He was waived on August 30, 1998.[9]

Jackson signed with the Cincinnati Bengals on September 10, 1998.[10] He played two seasons from 1998 to 1999, but he saw little action and diminished production.[8]

On April 2, 2000, he signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints. Arguably his best two-year stint followed from 2000 to 2001, peaking with his best professional year in 2001—eighty-one catches for 1,046 yards and five touchdowns in sixteen starts.[8]

On July 12, 2002, he signed with the Atlanta Falcons taking the place of the previously released Jeff Graham.[11] He saw little playing time and was waived on October 28, 2002.[12]

On October 31, 2002, he signed with the Washington Redskins, reuniting with his former college coach, Steve Spurrier, then head coach of the team. He was cut on December 12, 2002.[13]

On March 12, 2004, he signed with the Denver Broncos and was released before the season started on August 17, 2004.[14]

Jackson finished his eight-season NFL career with 284 receptions for 3,641 yards and twenty-four touchdowns.[2]

Coaching career[edit | edit source]

In November 2018, Jackson was hired by Steve Spurrier as wide receivers coach for the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football.[15]

Gator football family[edit | edit source]

Jackson's younger brother, Terry Jackson, was a tailback for the Gators from 1995 to 1998,[16] and played running back and special teams for the San Francisco 49ers from 1999 to 2005.[17] His father, Willie Jackson, Sr., led the Gators in all-purpose yards and kick-off returns in the early 1970s,[3] and was one of the team's first two African-American players at the University of Florida.[16] All three Jacksons wore jersey No. 22 for the Gators.[16]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Pro-Football-Reference.com, Players, Willie Jackson. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 databaseFootball.com, Players, Willie Jackson Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Webarchive/data' not found.. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Webarchive/data' not found., University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 85, 88, 97, 143–145, 148, 159, 162, 182 (2011). Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  4. F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  5. "Nine Members Inducted Into University of Florida Athletics Hall of Fame," GatorZone.com (April 11, 2008). Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  6. Pro Football Hall of Fame, Draft History, 1994 National Football League Draft. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  7. "Leaving the Shadows For a Moment in the Sun," The New York Times (January 5, 2001). Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 National Football League, Historical Players, Willie Jackson. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  9. "Transactions," The New York Times (August 31, 1998). Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  10. "Transactions," The New York Times (September 11, 1998). Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  11. "Transactions," The New York Times (July 13, 2002). Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  12. "Transactions," The New York Times (October 29, 2002). Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  13. "Transactions," The New York Times (December 13, 2002). Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  14. "Transactions," The New York Times (August 18, 2004). Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  15. Ruiz, Stephen (November 8, 2018). "Steve Spurrier's first staff with Apollos includes Super Bowl champions, former Gators". Orlando Sentinel. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/os-sp-orlando-apollos-coaching-staff-1108-story.html. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Noel Nash, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois, pp. 59–65 (1998).
  17. National Football League, Historical Players, Terry Jackson. Retrieved June 4, 2010.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Carlson, Norm, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia (2007). ISBN 0-7948-2298-3.
  • Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 0-9650782-1-3.
  • Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 1-58261-514-4.
  • McCarthy, Kevin M., Fightin' Gators: A History of University of Florida Football, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (2000). ISBN 978-0-7385-0559-6.
  • Nash, Noel, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois (1998). ISBN 1-57167-196-X.
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