Pitt Football Spring Practice: Buddy Jackson The Dual Threat?

Buddy Jackson figured to be a part of the conversation for a starting spot in the secondary this season, but now it looks as if he could be an impact player on special teams.

We all knew Jackson could contend as a starting cornerback, and secondary coach Tony Gibson is high on him - real high:

"As far as pure talent, I've been doing this for a long time and I've coached a lot of NFL guys -- I've never had one who is capable of what Buddy can do," said Pitt secondary coach Tony Gibson. "He's really, really talented. Now, we just need to get him to harness all that talent and fit into what we do.

Whether that's merely coach-speak or not, who really knows. But that's still a pretty big compliment.

And don't loo now, but Jackson is now hoping to be the team's kick returner:

Jackson has done so well that he not only has a chance to be one of the starters at cornerback, but he also has a chance to fulfill his dream of being a full-time kick-returner.

"I did it my junior and senior year of high school," Jackson said of returning kicks. "And then I took a few back for touchdowns, so teams started to sky kick it. So to get back and get an opportunity to do it, I'm really looking forward to it this fall.

"I just need to make sure I catch the ball and get up the field, see that gap and go into it. I am just going to use my speed and do what I have to in order to get that shot in the game. Once I get that ball, I'm see the end zone, I want to get there as fast as possible."

Jackson, timed in the 40-yard dash in just under 4.4 seconds, also has a 42-inch vertical leap. While working his way into the kick-return rotation, he has excited coaches with his speed and attitude.

Jackson got his chance to return kicks on ASaturday and apparently didn't do anything to have that opportunity taken away. In fact, he bolstered his chances according to Paul Zelse of the PG:

One day after being given his shot to return kicks, Buddy Jackson gave coaches reason to think that it might be a good move. Jackson took the first kick-off of today's scrimmage and returned it for a touchdown. In the process he made a nice move to get free after he fielded it, then shed a tackler (which is something he needs to prove he can do - be a physical player) and then got into the open field and it was off to the races.

I've always had serious concerns about Pitt's return game. Maybe this isn't necessarily true, but it just seems like there's always trouble brewing in that unit. I spend most of the time fretting over whether Pitt will merely hold onto the ball - let alone make a play. I always thought that Cam Saddler would eventually break a kickoff for a touchdown, and maybe he will. But we all remember that costly fumble last year against Miami.
So, competition's always a good thing.
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