CollegeMontana Grizzlies


Position switch, cross-country move paid dividends for Ronald Jackson with Montana Grizzlies

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Posted at 5:23 PM, Apr 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-11 19:40:46-04

MISSOULA — Ronald Jackson was ready to tackle a challenge head on when he transferred to the Montana Grizzlies football program last winter.

Jackson, who spent three seasons at FBS Akron, came to FCS Montana as a safety, but by the end of spring ball last year he made the position switch to corner.

"It was the last week of spring and me going into it, I just felt confident," Jackson said. "I felt like I could do it so it was really nothing, for real. I feel like I can play the position anywhere.

"I just want to continue building on helping the team win, man. Making myself better as a player to help the guys next to me win. Just bringing different energy this fall, probably a more intense energy than we did last year so we can go this year and accomplish what we want to accomplish."

In the fall, Jackson was ready to embrace his new role, and was inserted as a backup corner who would rotate in on defense, and Jackson would go on to start in three games toward the end of the regular season due to injuries at the position. He finished the year with 23 total tackles, three pass breakups, and one interception against Idaho State.

University of Montana sophomore Ronald Jackson (2) intercepts the ball during the game against Idaho State at Washington-Grizzly Stadium on September 30, 2023.

As a guy who played safety all his life, that offseason of learning helped drastically, and Jackson got his footing under him quickly.

"When I was out there, I had to switch my brain, like, yeah I'm a corner now and so when I was able to go out there for a game, I realized I'm actually a corner now," Jackson said. "So the first couple games, I had to get used to it and my momentum and stuff like that.

"Once the season started going on, I started getting used to it, start getting that playbook more, getting better at alignments and schemes and different stuff like that. It was shaky in the beginning but throughout the season, I started getting more comfortable."

The Detroit native would be a key part of UM's defense as he provided depth and helped get Montana to the national championship game in Frisco, Texas.

And in his first year, Jackson acclimated quickly to his move across the country to Montana to become an integral contributor.

"I feel like coming from Akron to here is more of a brotherhood, they've already established their culture," Jackson said. "So I feel like it was really easy coming in. I felt like I fit in with the guys pretty much and all the guys are pretty well rounded guys here so it makes it easy for me to just come in and be able to slip in and be a part of the team with guys.

"We had older guys, seniors last year so we kind of listened to them more, and now we're all trying to get into that role of being vets and being leaders this year. It's been going good. I feel like as long as I do what I'm supposed to do and as long as I can do what I can for the team, that's what I feel like helped me."

Now having scratched past the surface with a full season of experience at his new position, Jackson is expected to be a key component for Montana's defense in the fall as he continues to lead, grow and improve, so he can do whatever he can to help get the Grizzlies back to Texas next January.

"We want to go back and go back to Frisco, so yeah, it's been very fueling," Jackson said. "We got a lot of guys, new guys and we got a lot of guys coming back and things like that. So we feel real confident this year. We just talked to each other like we got to work harder than we did last year if we want to make it to Frisco.

"Being with them guys last year man, this team is looking good right now so it looks like we we could come back and do it again, but them guys last year in my opinion, I feel like it'd never be a group like that again. It's not the same but it's the same because we're always the Griz, we're always going to bring what we bring. I feel like we're the same Griz."