Don Jackson’s first start with the Tiger-Cats sparked the run game for Hamilton.
Jackson originally signed in Steeltown during free agency in February 2020, but due to the pandemic leading to the cancelling of that season and a training camp hip injury this year, it took him over a year-and-a-half to be featured as the main back.
“He’s a self-starter, he’s ultra competitive, he brings burst back there. He’s been a professional, he’s wanted to be on the field, an opportunity presented itself and he most the most of it,” head coach Orlondo Steinauer said.
“Our biggest focus was to come out and be more physical than the next team. If we were more physical, held onto the football and made explosive plays, then we would win the game,” Jackson said.
The 28-year-old had 16 carries for 120 yards — 7.5 yards per carry — and one touchdown, a 16-yard diving major to finish off the Ticats 39-23 win against Edmonton in Week 13. Hamilton offensive coordinator Tommy Condell called a balanced attack with 23 rushes and 24 passes at Commonwealth Stadium.
“The guy is electric, you see what he does, super quick, runs very deliberate — it’s a great addition to our offence,” quarterback Jeremiah Masoli said.
“Any way that we have to win, we’ll win. We all know that it would be crucial to be able to lean on that as we get down the home stretch and playoffs.”
It was Jackson’s third career 100-yard rushing game in the CFL and first since his rookie year with the Calgary Stampeders in 2018. The five-foot-10, 205-pound back rushed 160 times for 924 yards — 5.8 yards per carry — and three majors during year one north of the border.
After the 2016 NFL Draft, Jackson inked an undrafted free agent contract with Green Bay. He played three games, starting one, for the Packers carrying the ball 10 times for 32 yards prior to suffering a left hand injury. The following year, Green Bay selected three running backs and released him in May 2017.
The University of Nevada product played with current Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo in the NCAA. Jackson totalled 2,371 rushing yards, 269 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns with the Wolfpack. He capped his collegiate career by turning out 1,082 yards on 229 carries with seven touchdowns in 13 games during his senior year.
“Jackson brings a different level of quickness and burst,” Steinauer said. “I just want people to bring their skillset and what they bring to the table each week.”
Adding Jackson into the offence helped the Tiger-Cats post a season-high 39 points. That total and individual production prove the dynamic playmaker deserves an increase in touches.