PREP FOOTBALL: Former pro Andrew Jackson to coach NU freshmen | TheUnion.com

PREP FOOTBALL: Former pro Andrew Jackson to coach NU freshmen

Nevada Union's freshman football team has a new man in charge and he's looking for players to help build a foundation that will support the program as a whole for years to come.

"What I hope to accomplish with these kids is to get them a really, really good base," new freshmen head coach Andrew Jackson said, "a fundamental base they can take on to the JV and varsity level and just build upon. And, really give those other squads quality players that understand what they are doing."

Jackson, a 2006 Nevada Union grad, was recently tabbed as the freshman head coach by varsity head coach Brad Sparks.

"He's got tons of energy and he's an absolute kid magnet," Sparks said of Jackson. "He brings that element of what we're missing at the lower level. He brings excitement. People want to be around him and he showed that the first practice. Hes' going to be fantastic, absolutely fantastic."

“What I hope to accomplish with these kids is to get them a really, really good base, a fundamental base they can take on to the JV and varsity level and just build upon. And, really give those other squads quality players that understand what they are doing.”

—Andrew Jackson

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Jackson was a dominant force on both sides of the ball during his playing days at Nevada Union, helping the Miners win the 2005 Sac-Joaquin Section Championship. In his senior year, he led the team in sacks (11) on defense and anchored an offensive line that helped produce more than 265 rush yards per game.

Jackson went on to be a four-year starter on the offensive line at Fresno State and was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Injuries limited Jackson's pro career to just two years, one with the Falcons and one with the Buffalo Bills.

Jackson, who has previous coaching experience as an assistant at River Valley, will be joined on the freshmen coaching staff by Buck Davis and Dave Kramer.

Like Jackson, Davis is an NU grad and former football player for the Miners.

"It's the time of your life," Davis said of playing high school football. "Stepping on the football field and playing alongside your friends, those memories will stick with you for the rest of your life."

The Miners football program was without a junior varsity team last season, but Sparks, who was hired as NU's varsity football coach in April, has re-established the JV team and is looking to build the program's numbers as a whole, starting with the freshmen team.

Sparks said even though practices have started for the freshman squad, they are still accepting any incoming NU freshmen who is interested in giving it a try.

"We want as many kids as we can get," Sparks said. "We're building this program and we want to make it exciting and fun again."

Jackson said he looks back fondly at his time attending and playing at Nevada Union and wants to help create that same feelings for his players.

"NU always has a special spot in my heart," Jackson said. "I had a blast going to school and playing sports at NU and that's what ultimately led me back, and I want to give that experience to the kids."

Jackson said those interested in playing should come to a practice and give it a try. Practices are Monday through Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at Nevada Union. Players should bring cleats, and athletic clothes and must bring a parent the first day they attend. Coaches will be happy to help navigate any further paperwork.

"Whether you played before or not. Whether you liked your coaches or not. Don't be afraid and come try it out," Jackson said. "It's a clean slate. We're starting fresh. Come out and give it a try. At the end of the day we're just teaching values, having fun and using football as the means."

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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