Utah Running Back Ja’Quinden Jackson Finding Joy In A New Position

Sep 27, 2022, 4:15 PM

Ja'Quinden Jackson - Utah Utes...

Ja'Quinden Jackson #3 of the Utah Utes rushes the ball behind blocker Chris Curry #0 during their game against the Washington State Cougars September 25, 2021 at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- It’s hard to argue few have had as tough of a time over the past few years as newly minted running back Ja’Quinden Jackson has, but he says he’s finding new joy in the game again.

After a rough start to his collegiate career at Texas, Jackson transferred to Utah largely under the encouragement of freshman running back phenom Ty Jordan. About a week after Jackson announced his intention to transfer to Utah, Jordan was killed by an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound. The two would never see the field together for the Utes.

Jackson still came out to Utah and bonded very quickly with defensive back Aaron Lowe over Jordan. Lowe and Jordan were best friends in high school and eventually teammates for the Utes. Lowe became the first recipient of the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship and switched his number from 2 to 22 (Jordan’s number at Utah) in honor of his fallen friend. Nine months later Lowe would be murdered at a house party in Salt Lake City leaving Jackson without his two biggest connections to a new team.

Fast forward a year later and Jackson is making moves for the Utes. He was in a heated battle with Bryson Barnes for the backup quarterback spot which Barnes ultimately won. Jackson then became the second recipient of the Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe Memorial Scholarship. Best of all however, is Jackson found a position with meaning to switch to- running back, just like Jordan. Jackson also got to take his first collegiate snaps at the position on the eve of Lowe’s death- honoring both of his friends who can no longer push forward in the game all three love.


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Jackson On Finding Joy With The Utes

Jackson has been fairly open about the fact he was “lost” in 2021 and understandably so. Jordan and Lowe were just two of a handful of loved ones Jackson had lost within the span of a year. Add in being on a new team and in a new environment, and it’s no wonder football maybe mattered a little less. These days, Jackson says he’s happier and in a better place with the new position being a big part of it.

“I found my joy again,” Jackson said. “I’m just going to leave it at that. I found my joy again. I actually had fun just being out there playing again. I found my joy again. I’m loving it.”

Make no mistake, running back isn’t a totally new position for Jackson. He was actually a running back before he was a quarterback which explains why he’s taken to it so quickly. Still, he’s competing in a room with a lot of unreal talent and knows he has some work to do to get where he needs to be.

“Just keep working,” Jackson said. “Just keep working and keep crafting up. Keep with the craft and just listen to coach Q and just build on top of what I’m doing right now.”

Running backs coach Quinton Ganther had nothing but good things to say about Jackson noting he’s a natural and just needs time adjust to being a running back versus a quarterback again.

“The kid is already naturally gifted,” Ganther said. “He just has to learn the little nuances of the position and I think in a few weeks when he really learns the nuances of the position- I mean, he had only been playing for two days. He only had two days of practice. I congratulate him for taking it serious and two days of work? That’s hard to get thrown in the fire off two days of work. I appreciate him for the work he’s put in.”

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Utah Running Back Ja’Quinden Jackson Finding Joy In A New Position