Katie Lawrence | BCLions.com
KAMLOOPS, BC -- Football is an incredibly physical game where, as a wide receiver, you rely on your feet to help you get away from defenders and gain as much yardage as you can.
Imagine trying to compete for one of those spots on a broken foot.
That’s what rookie Lions receiver Ernest Jackson had to fight through while trying to make his football dreams come true.
Having suffered a Lisfranc, a specific fracture that affects the arches in the feet, in the last game of his senior year of college, Jackson struggled to perform his best at workouts leading up to the 2009-2010 NFL season.
“I went to the Detroit Lions for their rookie camp, but I had got my x-rays done, and when the results come back, they said your foot is nowhere near healed, so I got sent home. Then a few weeks later, the Vikings called me up,” said Jackson. “At the end of the day, they said they liked what they saw, but they could tell I was still hurt, which was true, but I wasn’t going to complain, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“Then in pre-season, the Patriots called, they wanted to see who was still available for receivers. So I came out, did a little workout with them. After that, I had to sit out and heal.”
The fracture occurred during Jackson’s final game at the University of Buffalo after he had completed a catch. An opposing defenseman jumped on Jackson, but he stayed on his feet. It was when the second defenseman tackled him that Jackson felt it.
“I guess it was all the pressure of the weight on me or something,” he said. “Something snapped.”
After trying to play through the injury, Jackson took a year off in 2010 to heal. Once he felt like he could play again, he looked into other leagues than the NFL.
He played with the Erie Explosion during the 2011 Ultimate Indoor Football League season. While staying in Pennsylvania, Jackson heard about an open tryout nearby for a CFL team.
“I came out for one of the BC Lions’ workouts in Maryland, but I was just getting back in shape, so I didn’t perform to my best at that tryout,” said Jackson.
Continuing to heal and get stronger, Jackson moved on to the Indoor Football League for the 2012 season, joining the Chicago Slaughter. Feeling like he was in better shape, Jackson went to another tryout for the Lions that year.
“Things went a lot better because I was in shape and I was back on my feet again,” he said. “Basically after the second camp, I guess they liked what they saw. They gave me a call. I guess another guy got injured and they said I was the next guy in line, and the opportunity came.”
Signing with the Lions near the end of rookie camp after the departure of the injured Juan Nunez, “EJ”, as he is known around camp, took over number 82 and began his integration into the team, which went smoothly.
TC12: Fighting the Grey Cup Hangover
Receivers coach Travis Moore has been impressed with Jackson’s performance so far at camp, praising his speed and physical attributes.
“What stands out about Ernest is what he brings physically: 6’3”, almost 6’4”, 215 pounds and he runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, so that sticks out right there. This is a young man that has something that none of us can teach,” said Moore.
“I see him fitting in at our Y or W [slotback] position. He’s got good straight line speed. He’s got to work on a few things to do with route-running, and I can see him being a big target down-field.”
As for Jackson’s future with the team, Moore couldn’t say one way or the other.
“We’ve got some ideas for Ernest, but we have to let everything unfold and see where he lands.”
With training camp coming to a close this Wednesday, Jackson and the rest of the team don’t have long to wait.