Iowa football cornerback Joshua Jackson added to his already incredible 2017 campaign Saturday against the eighth ranked Wisconsin Badgers, taking two interceptions back for touchdowns.
Jackson has made a habit of showing up for the biggest games on the Hawkeyes schedule this season. The junior’s performance Saturday in Madison followed up a three interception game Week 10, leading the Hawkeyes to a 55-24 victory.
While the Hawkeyes fell 38-14 to Wisconsin this past weekend; Jackson was one of the few bright spots for the Hawkeyes. In addition to his two pick sixes (in which accounted for all of the Hawkeyes scoring on the day), he also forced a fumble. In fact, Jackson’s 95 return on yards on his picks outgained the Hawkeye offense by 29 yards, as the offensive unit was stagnant against a tough Badger defense.
Jackson now leads the nation in interceptions, interception return yards, and passes defended. With five of those interceptions coming in the last two weeks, it is clear he is among the hottest players in college football.
While Jackson was not a household name entering the 2017 season, his performance has not come as a surprise for Hawkeye fans and coaching staff. Iowa defensive coordinator/secondary coach Phil Parker is among the best DB developers in the nation, as Iowa has sent a number of secondary players to the NFL, most recently in Desmond King.
Jackson played and trained with King for the past two seasons, including 2015 when King was the Jim Thorpe award winner for best DB in the nation. During the 2015 season, King hauled in eight interceptions and posted 13 passes defended. While Jackson still needs one more interception to match King’s 2015 campaign, he already has 16 passes defended, and is the clear favorite to bring the Jim Thorpe award back to Iowa City.
It is unclear if Joshua Jackson will declare for the 2018 NFL Draft following the season. Desmond King, a junior when he won the Jim Thorpe award, stayed to play his senior season in 2016, and saw a drastic fall in his numbers as teams tended to stay away from targeting him. Projected as a first round pick in 2015, King slipped all the way to the fifth round after playing out his senior year. He now plays corner for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Jackson’s draft stock will certainly be high as he has good size, speed, and tackling ability for a cornerback. The Corinth, Texas native is listed as 6’1”, 192 pounds, and his length and physicality makes him a tough match up for any opposing wide receiver. The only knock on Jackson is a lack of experience as only a one year starter; but with the level he is currently playing at, it would be difficult for any NFL team in need of a secondary piece to pass him up.