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Coach bringing championship experience to Comets football

Corey Jackson, former Halifax County High School football standout and defensive tackle at the University of Richmond, sports a ring emblematic of the University of Richmond’s 2008 NCAA Division I FCS Championship.

The recent Richmond graduate hopes to use that championship experience to help guide his high school football team back to prominence.

Jackson current supervises afternoon weight-lifting sessions for the Comets’ football program, according to Head Football Coach Mike Roark, who likes the workman-like approach Jackson brings to the team.

“I look for him to be our varsity defensive line coach, and I wish I had 12 like him,” Roark said Tuesday.

Jackson believes hard work during the summer paves the way for success in the fall.

“Every coach I’ve been involved with in college from Coach (Dave) Clausen to Coach (Latrell) Scott to Coach (Russ) Huesman and now UVA Coach (Mike) London, says the summer is where you make your mark at,” Jackson said.

“Obviously, if you cheat yourself while you’re there you’ll cheat the team, and I’m sure that’s the same principle all coaches teach.

“Every great leader was once a great follower.  That’s what I’m trying to instill in the kids.”

A December graduate of the University of Richmond, Jackson offered his services to the Comets football program when he moved home in April.  

“This is where it started for me,” said Jackson while recalling the end of his collegiate football career.   

“I told the kids the other day just a few months ago I was taking a knee just like you are now,” he noted.

“Coaching is something you get a good feeling from, and some make certain amounts of money from it.

“But, the feeling is priceless, helping someone else get better and teaching them, but not just the sport of football.

“What we teach them can apply not only to football but to life.”

Jackson appeared in six games and made eight tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2008 when the Spiders won their national championship, winning nine straight games after a 4-3 start.

He played in 12 of the team’s 13 games the next season, finishing with nine tackles, and he finished with 47 tackles in 10 games as a junior, 21 of them in the last three games.

Hampered by injuries his senior season, Jackson started six games and finished with 10 tackles.

Several of Jackson’s teammates now play in the NFL, including Omar Shields, Martin Parker and Lawrence Sidbury.

“Who else better can you learn from to be successful by doing it the right way,” Jackson asked.

“The lessons I learned from them I can combine and teach the kids, as well as myself.”

One lesson he learned was always to have faith and confidence no matter what the circumstances, and London’s leadership in 2008 was a prime example.

“At one point we were 4-3 and Coach London didn’t show any worry.  That’s one thing I respect about him.  He has to be one of the best motivators I’ve ever been around, on any level or in any sport,” said Jackson.

Injuries may have short-changed his shot at the NFL, but Jackson harbors no regrets.

“As you know in football these things happen, and it’s part of the game,” explained Jackson.  “I was even lucky enough to come back from injury, and I owed them that.

“They gave me a chance to be somebody who could make a difference, and I’d be the first to tell you that even if I would have had a great senior year I would have been lucky to get a shot for an NFL team.”

“Being there for my team was the biggest thing for me, and just being a voice and having that leadership,” he continued.

“Right now, my goal is to bring back the championship football form back to Halifax County football, kind of see where I want to go, try this coaching thing and be a part of the school system for awhile.

“I definitely appreciate being back.”  

Jackson is just happy to give back to a sport that has given so much to him, and if he has a chance he plans to personally thank each person who helped him along the way, including his former coaches.

“I’d thank you for helping me get the opportunity to do something,” said Jackson.

“What I’m doing now will never measure up to what they did for me, but I hope it’s a start.”