Gabe Jackson (61) is ready to lend his senior experience to the offensive line for the Bulldogs this season. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)
Gabe Jackson has been at Mississippi State for three years and has used that time wisely to develop his skills as an offensive lineman.
The junior hailing from Liberty comes into the season being selected for the Outland Trophy watch list and the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list. He has also received All-Southeastern Conference second team from numerous sources.
All that has lead Jackson to being one of the top offensive lineman for the Bulldogs. He will take what he has learned in his time at Mississippi State to better himself and his team.
"(I'm learning) different techniques defenses use and how they are aligned," Jackson said. "Developing more as a player, just playing the game and understanding everything more. Just buying in and getting use to the people beside you and not being selfish."
MSU offensive line coach John Hevesy always pushes the players he coaches and Jackson has always followed his example.
"He always instills effort," Jackson said. "He gets what he wanted and that's how it's going to be. It's not like he is going to do what you want to do."
During the 2011 season, Jackson started all 13 games at left guard. He graded out as a champion five times and recorded a team-high 69 takedowns.
All that doesn't mean much to Jackson, who always seems to focus on the Auburn game. Jackson has never been on a team that beat the Tigers. He plans to make this game an emphasis.
The Bulldogs and Tigers square off in the second week of the season in Starkville on Sept. 8.
"It is one of the biggest games of the season," Jackson said. "We lost to them the last three years that I have been here. I feel like we can beat them this year. With it being the second game, it will get our season going on a roll. It is our first SEC game. I think it will be a good motivation for us."
Jackson and Dillon Day are the two that stand out along the offensive line.
Even though he is considered a leader, Jackson knows the offensive line is made up of more than just two people.
"It's the guys around us too like Blaine Clausell," Jackson said. "He's coming along a lot and he has improved a lot. It's all of us together, making better decisions."
That kind of attitude has been seen in Jackson's work ethic. He sees the offensive line as a unit and it will take all of them working together to get the job done.
"I feel we have the potential to be real good if we keep working and progressing everyday," Jackson said. "It will take time, everything doesn't happen overnight. We've just got to get used to playing as a unit."
Other than Clausell, Jackson sees several young Bulldogs stepping up and making contributions this year.
"Justin Malone has been coming along and doing better this year," Jackson said. "Damien Robinson and all of them have been stepping up. It will be a pretty good year for us."
In 2011, Jackson and the offensive line blocked for quarterback Chris Relf. Relf dropped back and passed the ball some, but he was more efficient when he got out of the pocket and scrambled.
Tyler Russell is a totally different type of signal caller. Russell stays in the pocket and passes. He will rarely run.
The difference in the two quarterbacks doesn't seem to be an issue for Jackson.
"It's not that much big of a difference," Jackson said. "It's a different style and according to the quarterback, you have to adjust to them. No matter what, you don't want to give up sacks and you don't want let the defense penetrate the line of scrimmage. No. 1 goal is to always fill the spots no matter what quarterback is in."
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