Unlikely Rise to the NFL: Fred Jackson

Matt SchaeferCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2008

Fred Jackson came out of Lamar High School looking for a place to play college football. He was able to attend Coe College, a D-III football program in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Jackson won many honors in college, from state MVP titles to All-American teams. He graduated in 2003, looking to still continue his pro football career.

Jackson was a man destined to make the NFL. His road to it would be extremely hard. He started on his road to the NFL, in 2004 where he was an undrafted free agent signing in, no not the NFL, the UIF (or better know as the United Indoor Football League). He played two seasons for the Sioux City Bandits. In 2005, his final year in the league, he rushed for 1,170 yards and 53 touchdowns (both records) which was good enough for him to win Co-MVP honors in the league. Even this was not good enough to get him on a NFL practice squad though.

Jackson got good news in 2006. He was invited by the Buffalo Bills to compete for a spot in training camp. He was a long shot with the young Willis McGahee and veteran Anthony Thomas on the squad. He ended up not making it, but he did get a spot on a NFL Europe squad. He rushed for 731 yards with the Rhein Fire, which led the team.

In the following year, Jackson finally made his first NFL squad with the 2007 Buffalo Bills team. He had an incredible preseason which was good enough to keep him. He even started a game with the injured running back Marshawn Lynch out of the lineup due to injury. He made the most of his playing time. In 8 games, he rushed for 300 yards on 58 attempts. That was good for a 5.2 average on his runs! He also caught 22 passes (more than Lynch did) for 190 yards. He has yet to reach the end zone in a regular season game.

The 27 year old running back has definitely paid his dues. He worked his butt off his whole life to make a NFL roster. He may not have always been the best but his work ethic and dedication is second to none. I am excited to watch a guy like Jackson play every game just because of where he came from, and how he got to the NFL.

In the first 5 games this year, Jackson has rushed the ball 30 times for 134 yards and 1 TD.  He has also been a threat coming out of the backfield, accumulating 14 catches for 125 yards.