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BOWLING GREEN — The first spring football game for the Bowling Green State University under new coach Dino Babers will be the last for Heath Jackson.
“It hasn’t hit me yet [that this is my senior year], but I’m sure it will once the season starts,” the senior wide receiver said. “It’s been an interesting journey. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about my teammates.”
Jackson and his teammates will play their spring game today starting at noon at Doyt Perry Stadium. The contest will feature the offense against the defense in a style not unlike the two scrimmages the previous two Saturdays.
The contest will feature a chance for Jackson and the rest of the wide receiver corps to continue to learn the high-powered, fast-paced offense Babers brought with him from Eastern Illinois.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity with this new coaching staff,” Jackson said. “They bring a really good offense and we have a good young receiving corps.
“We want to go out and prove to everybody that we’re willing to come back from a great season and do well again.”
Jackson also wants to prove he has the ability to come back after injuries limited his playing time in the early portion of his career. After redshirting in 2010, he played in five games in 2011 before a season-ending knee injury limited him to just one game in ’12.
“When you have a serious injury, it’s frustrating,” Jackson said. “You have to do a lot of extra work to get back to where you were, and that work is never easy.”
Last season Jackson played in 13 games, but he didn’t catch a pass until grabbing four against UMass in the sixth game of the season. Several big games — including a seven-catch, 72-yard effort against Toledo — helped him finish sixth on the team with 21 receptions good for 228 yards and two scores.
Jackson was happy to bounce back, because it helped curb any doubts he might have had after his injuries.
“I wouldn’t say doubt creeps in, but your confidence level isn’t where it needs to be,” he said. “You can’t be afraid to do that old stuff. If you go out and don’t give your all, that’s when more injuries happen.”
The wide receiver has been healthy this spring, and Baber said he likes the maturity Jackson has shown.
“He has adapted really well to some of the techniques we’re showing these guys,” Babers said. “And his leadership in the [wide receiver] group has really been outstanding. We’re looking forward to seeing the things he can do in this offense.”
Jackson said he and his teammates realize they can improve in Babers’ up-tempo offense.
“I think we’re pretty far along, but we have a lot of stuff to work on still,” Jackson said.
“We’re not fully 100 percent on everything."