Hard Work Paying Off for Richard Jackson

by - Correspondent -
The junior from Greenville became the first Clemson kicker to record two field goals of at least 50 yards in the same season since 1992.

CLEMSON -- It was a sloppy day in Death Valley Saturday – wind, rain, thunder, lighting, two weather delays and an offense that couldn’t find the end zone.

Enter Clemson place kicker Richard Jackson.

The redshirt junior from Greer, S.C., had a record-tying performance that sparked the Tigers 25-7 drubbing of Boston College. Jackson was named MVP of the game and recipient of the “Leather Helmet” Award.

“There are a lot of ways to win games, and great special teams play is one of them,” said Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney. “They helped us to get this win today. Richard Jackson had six field goals today. He showed maturity and toughness throughout the game. He is a great example of why it’s never too late to improve and grow as a player.”

Jackson had three field goals in the first half, and then followed that with a 52-yard field goal in the third quarter in a driving rain. He booted his fifth and sixth of the day in the fourth quarter with 42-yard and a 35-yard field goals.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever tried six in a game,” Jackson said. “I had a lot of short field goals, which is a credit to the offense. They got us down there and I just capped it off.”

Jackson tied the Tiger’s single game record set by Jad Dean in 2005 with six field goals in a game dominated by special teams and defense. He connected from 23, 33, 32, 52, 42 and 35 yards.

And he has gone 8-of-8 the past two games, nailing one of at least 50 yards in each game.

It hasn’t been easy for Jackson since arriving at Clemson. He had to fight his way back to win the kicking job in preseason.

One reason the Tigers signed Jackson was his long-range kicking ability. He nailed a 64-yard field goal as a senior at Riverside High School establishing a South Carolina prep record.

But once on campus he struggled. Jackson thought about transferring, but instead decided he would remain a Tiger and win the place kicking job back.

“He has been capable forever,” said Swinney. “I’m proud of Richard, because I bought him a bus ticket out of here last spring. He just wasn’t doing things right. (But) he did what he had to do even though a lot of people didn’t think he would, based on past behavior. As I told the team, he is a great example of it is never too late to do what is right. He got serious about football. He got serious about his academics. He got ‘all in’ basically.”

Jackson became the first Clemson player to have two field goals of at least 50 yards in two games since 1992 and he is the second player in Clemson history to have field goals of at least 50 yards in consecutive games, connecting from 53 yards versus Georgia Tech last week.

“Eight months ago if you would have told I was here, I would have told you were lying and laughed in your face,” Jackson said. “It’s come a long way. I can’t take credit for that. There a lot of people who can take credit for that. I’m just one piece of the puzzle.”

He talked about his 52-yard field goal after Saturday’s game.

“Back there that far, I just swing hard,” Jackson said. “Get comfortable and swing away.”

For his efforts, Jackson was one of three kickers recognized by the Lou Groza Collegiate Place Kicker Award, college football’s top kicking award, as the “Stars of the Week.”

Longest Field Goals in Clemson History

Player     		Site-Opponent 		Year Yds
Obed Ariri 		H-Wake Forest 		1977 57
Chris Gardocki 		H-Appalachian St 	1990 57
Donald Igwebuike 	a-N C State 		1982 55
Donald Igwebuike 	a-Boston College 	1983 55
Donald Igwebuike 	h-Duke 			1984 53
Chris Gardocki 		N1-Maryland 		1990 53
Nelson Welch 		A-Maryland 		1992 53
Richard Jackson 	A-Georgia Tech 		2009 53
Richard Jackson 	H-Boston College 	2009 52
8 others at 52 yards
N1 - at Baltimore Memorial Stadium 

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