University of Tulsa senior linebacker Shawn Jackson was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year as selected by the 14 league coaches, it was announced today by the C-USA office.
Jackson, a 6'0", 255-pound senior from Tulsa's McLain High School, was dominant for a young defensive unit that had 10 new starters in the 2013 campaign.
"I'm excited for Shawn Jackson. It is a well-deserved honor. I'm grateful to the Conference USA coaches who saw the impact Shawn made on the field and voted him this award," said Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship. "Shawn was the glue to an extremely young defensive unit this year."
"Shawn is a guy that our players look up to. He has sustained a high level of play for a lot of years. He brings it everyday. It's hard to describe Shawn. He's a laid-back youngster in a lot of ways and then gets on the field, and he's just a baller. He finds the ball and is able to make plays," added Blankenship.
"When Shawn first came to Tulsa, it took him a little time to transition to the speed and the more complicated offenses of college football. He was a guy who just lined up to play football and didn't really care if there were three wide receivers or zero receivers. Like many young guys, Shawn was the type of player who was just going to watch the ball, go where it went and tackle the guy. He transitioned extremely well into being able to read offenses and react. Shawn directs traffic back there and recognizes alignments and anticipates plays that are being run. He really gets it."
"Shawn Jackson is an outstanding football player," stated Blankenship.
Jackson totaled 124 tackles for a 10.2 average per game to rank second in the league behind Hurricane teammate Michael Mudoh. Jackson compiled 76 solo tackles, 18.5 stops for -68 yards and 5.5 quarterback sacks for -33 yards in 12 games. He also led Tulsa with five interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Jackson totaled eight double-digit tackle games on the season and 15 for his career.
He currently ranks seventh in the nation for solo tackles, 11th for TFLs, 12th for total tackles, 18th for interceptions and 22nd for fumble recoveries. In Conference USA statistics, Jackson ranked first for TFLs, second for tackles and third for interceptions and forced fumbles.
A four-year starter, Jackson completed his career second on the school's all-time tackles chart with 401 tackles in 49 games played, while starting 46 contests. He holds the school's career records for tackles for lost yardage (55.5 for -230 yards), quarterback sacks (23.5 for -146 yards) and tied for fumble recoveries (6).
In school history, Tulsa now has four players to have earned Conference USA player of the year accolades (2 defensive and 2 offensive) and a total of 14 conference player of the year honorees since the 1971 season.
Jackson is the seventh conference defensive player of the year selection in school history, but just the second Conference USA defensive honoree. The first five for the Golden Hurricane came when the school played in the Missouri Valley Conference. Linebacker Nick Bunting, another local product, was Tulsa's last C-USA Defensive Player of the Year award winner in 2006, while Paul Smith (2007) and G. J Kinne (2010) were named C-USA Players of the Year for offense to give Tulsa a total of four Conference USA Players of the Year in Tulsa's nine-year history as a league member.
A full list of C-USA individual award winners:
Most Valuable Player: Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina
Offensive Player of the Year: Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Defensive Player of the Year: Shawn Jackson, LB, Tulsa
Special Teams Player of the Year: Brelan Chancellor, KR/PR, North Texas
Freshman of the Year: Corey Tindal, DN, Marshall; Nico Marley, LB, Tulane
Newcomer of the Year: Jazquez Johnson, QB, Florida Atlantic