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Alabama State's Jackson becomes first HBCU '06 NFL Draftee

April 29, 2006

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Alabama State quarterback Tarvaris Jackson had intended on watching both days of the 2006 National Football League Draft at home with his family.

ASU Photo
Tavaris Jackson

But that all changed Saturday evening when Jackson's name was called as the selection of the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the NFL Draft, the 64th overall selection and first HBCU product chosen. He was the fifth quarterback picked.

Now, his Sunday plans include an early morning flight to meet his new employers.

"I was thinking that when you got drafted, you didn't leave the next day. I thought you just showed up at mini camp," said an elated Jackson Saturday night. "But I could've left tonight."

Jackson admitted his shock at being chosen at the end of the second round by the Vikings, who made a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers to move up and nab him.

"I'm very shocked. Not by the team that drafted me but by being picked in the second round. I was more focused on the third round and even that was stretching it," said Jackson, who followed Vince Young (Tennessee Titans/University of Texas), Matt Leinart (Arizona Cardinals/Southern California), Jay Cutler (Denver Broncos/Vanderbilt University) and Kellen Clemens (New York Jets/University of Oregon) in the quarterback pecking order.

While Jackson may have been caught off guard, Alabama State head coach Charles Coe said he expected it, even hinting to Jackson Friday night that he might not have to wait long to hear his name called.

"I've talked to enough general managers and player-personnel directors to know they wanted him. At first they were saying the fourth round or maybe the third round," Coe said. "But when they started working him out individually, his stock rose."

Jackson is the highest quarterback selected from Alabama State and is only the third player selected in the second round, joining defensive back Lester Simmons (Cleveland Browns, 1972), defensive tackle Curtis Green (Detroit Lions, 1981) and linebacker Eddie Robinson, Jr. (Houston Oilers, 1992). He is the first Alabama State player drafted by the NFL since former wide receiver and current coach Reggie Barlow was selected in the fourth round in 1995.

"This was a great selection by the Vikings," Coe said. "He's been a tremendous asset to not only Alabama State University and the football program, but to the Southwestern Athletic Conference and all HBCU's (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). He'll be a tremendous quarterback at the next level.

"He's grown tremendously as a player and a person. I'm just glad I was able to play a significant part as his coach at Alabama State."

During his three-year career at Alabama State, Jackson passed for 7,849 yards and 67 touchdowns while rushing for 982 yards and 11 scores. He led the Hornets to two Southwestern Athletic Conference championship games, helping ASU win the title in 2004. He played in 36 games during that span, compiling a 24-12 record.

Now, Jackson said he will begin preparing for his new career as a Vikings quarterback. Brad Johnson is currently entrenched as the starter but Jackson hopes it won't be long before he is leading the team into battle.

"I just want to learn as much as possible. Brad Johnson is a great quarterback and has won a Super Bowl," Jackson said. "Coach Barlow has told me a lot about him. But I just want to learn what I can before it's my time. I just want to produce for the Minnesota Vikings."

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