First round pick Tyson Jackson — holdout not withstanding — will be reporting to training camp next week with the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs. Jackson is continuing his journey from small town hero to prime time player along with his longtime teammate and friend, Quinn Johnson.
Driving desolate mile after desolate mile of Louisiana 3127, it’s hard to imagine that this area once was considered to be the hub of River Parishes civilization. After passing the millionth stalk of sugar cane, one might wonder if there is any civilization at all on the west bank of St. John the Baptist Parish. But the sudden spring of a football stadium from the midst of unharvested crops proves that there is.
This is West St. John High School, a hub in and of itself. It is the home of the Rams, owners of five state championship football trophies (and one state championship basketball trophy). And, as of April, it the home of two of the newest players in the NFL.
Tyson Jackson and Quinn Johnson were teammates on the 2003 West St. John team that went 14-1 and won the Class 2A state championship with a 41-21 victory over Sterlington. They then were teammates on an LSU team that won the 2007 national championship. And in April, both got calls from NFL teams.
Jackson, who admits to a deep and abiding love for his alma mater — “Those memories are my favorite,” he said — is thrilled that he and his teammate have achieved the ultimate dream.
“It means a lot. It shows that there is talent everywhere in America and that you can achieve your dreams. You just have to keep working for them. I’m excited.”
Since April, Jackson has been working hard to stay in shape and enjoying his first tastes of fame in his hometown.
“People stop to say hello and ask for autographs. Sometimes they ask for pictures with the kids. It’s all been in a positive way.”
In June, he held a huge community celebration at the West St. John gym, his way of thanking his hometown for its support. Now Jackson is preparing himself for the big move.
“It’s going to be an adjustment, going from down south to Kansas City. I’m going to have to adapt to that midwestern lifestyle.”
If Tyson Jackson is successful in Kansas City I have a feeling he’ll have no problem adjusting to the midwestern lifestyle. A huge culture shock like the one he is about to experience is a whole lot easier to take when everyone loves you. Unfortunately for Jackson he’s at an even bigger disadvantage than most draft picks when it comes to the fans since most saw his selection as a reach. The historically slow starts by rookie defensive linemen probably won’t help matters, but after a terrible season last year I hope most fans will give him a long leash before indicting him the way they did Glenn Dorsey.
Fantasy football drafts are already underway and will really start to pick up steam over the next month. We’ve already seen individual looks at Jamaal Charles and Mark Bradley. But where do Chiefs rank when it comes to IDP? According to the folks over at Fanhouse, Tamba Hali is a sleeper to keep your eye on.
Hali will switch to strong-side outside linebacker in the Kansas City 3-4, but he’ll be eligible at DE in your fantasy leagues. While he’s not going to win you your league, he’s a nice sleeper candidate in tackle-heavy leagues that require defensive-line starters as he could produces 50-60 tackles with a handful of sacks thrown in.
I hadn’t even considered Hali when I put together my first draft board, but this makes a lot of sense. He won’t be very impressive when compared to other linebackers, but even if he produces mediocre numbers that should rank him among the top quarter or defensive linemen. While I wouldn’t tell you to take Hali if there are more established options on the board, he would seem to be a better option than a middle of the road defensive tackle.