Coastal Carolina had an incredible run this college football season, as Jamey Chadwell led the program to an 11-1 record. One of the main impact players on the Chanticleers this year was Tarron Jackson, who was recently named a first-team All-American.
Jackson was on everyone’s radar coming into this season because of his production the year before, registering 56 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 2019. He was just as effective this season for the Chanticleers, finishing with 54 tackles, 8.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
A few days after Coastal Carolina’s final game of the season, Jackson announced that he was declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.
“This has been 5 of the best years of my life. The friends, memories, and lessons I have learned are priceless,” Jackson said. “To all my coaches at Coastal… you have been monumental in building me up into the person I am today and for that, I will be forever grateful. With that being said I would like to announce that I will be declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.”
We sat down with Jackson to discuss his NFL Draft decision, what this season felt like behind the scenes for Coastal Carolina, and if the College Football Playoff should expand its field.
The Spun: Coastal Carolina had a magical season this year. What was it like going from potentially no season to a top-15 team?
Tarron Jackson: This is one of the best seasons I’ve had in my career by far – just the amount of adversity we had to face before the season coming in. Going into the season we had a lot of restrictions and doubts about not being able to play. In March, we sent everyone home and the gyms closed. We had to work out at home just to keep ourselves ready. We came back in groups, but even then we had some doubts about the season. Once that first game arrived, we were just grateful to be on the field. We didn’t finish the season the way we wanted to, but we’re not going to let that put a damper on the year we had.
It’s been an amazing ride, thank you Teal Nation 🙏🏾
Big Ron signing out👌🏾 pic.twitter.com/iFcLYLu8yc
— Tarron Jackson (@tarron_jackson) December 27, 2020
The Spun: What went into your decision to declare for the NFL Draft?
TJ: I think it was a decision for my family. I want to be able to do stuff for my family that I couldn’t in the past. At Coastal, I came in and did what I wanted to do. Even though we didn’t get a chance to play for the Sun Belt Championship, we had some major accomplishments this year. We took a major step for the program, and it should be something that solidifies that program being very good for years to come.
The Spun: Jamey Chadwell really made a name for himself this year. Where does he rank in your opinion among college football coaches?
TJ: I think he’s one of the best coaches in college football right now. People saw the results this season, but it actually started as soon as he got here. He got a lot of people out who he didn’t feel were 100 percent bought in on the program. He got his players stronger and faster with the new strength and conditioning staff. He brought people with him who had great game plans, got a new defensive coordinator, and got people with great football minds around him.
Jamey Chadwell of Coastal Carolina is The Associated Press college football coach of the year.
Chadwell led No. 9 Coastal Carolina to an 11-1 season in his third year. pic.twitter.com/NrBypWlqhj
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 30, 2020
The Spun: Do you think the College Football Playoff field will/should expand?
TJ: I definitely feel like it’s time [to expand the Playoff]. In a sense, they divide us between the Power Five and Group of Five. If teams have the resume, they should have an opportunity to play in the College Football Playoff.
The Spun: There was some serious heat between your defense and BYU quarterback Zach Wilson this season. What led to the jawing back and forth between the two teams?
TJ: I think it was just two teams competing and wanting to win. Both of us came in undefeated for that game. We were supposed to play Liberty, but then they were off the schedule. But honestly it was just our competitive spirit that led to those exchanges on the field.
This happened earlier at the end of the first half between BYU and Coastal Carolina.
Wait until the end when Zach Wilson gets slammed to the turf.pic.twitter.com/dxITpXIPEr
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) December 6, 2020
The Spun: Grayson McCall was quite impressive as a freshman QB. What should college football fans expect from him moving forward?
TJ: I’m just going to let you know this: Grayson [McCall] is just getting started. He’s a great player and has great attention to details. In my opinion, you need to have those qualities in order to be great. He’s a guy who you’ll never see complain. You can see it on offense that his energy is contagious. The guys work a lot harder for him because he puts his body on the line. He’s going to do whatever he needs to do for his team to win. He’s not one of those quarterbacks that is going to slide. If there’s a running back in a pile, he’s pushing the pile. If he needs to dive for a first down, he’s going to do it. People are just seeing the beginning of Grayson McCall. He’s going to be a great quarterback.
The Spun: How do you think Coastal Carolina would’ve fared against a team like Alabama or Ohio State?
TJ: I believe we can compete with anyone in college football. We all strap our pads up the same. I feel like our defensive and offensive coordinators have great game plans, so it would all come down to execution.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 19, 2020
The Spun: What would you say is your greatest asset going into the NFL?
TJ: I would say my greatest asset is my get-off and my hands. Going into the season, my hands were something I wanted to work on a lot. I feel like I definitely got better at knocking offensive linemen’s hands down and getting around the corner.
The Spun: Which NFL quarterback do you want to sack the most?
TJ: I would have to say Lamar Jackson. I’d say Lamar is one of the toughest quarterbacks to sack because he moves so well and has a great arm. It’d be a major accomplishment to sack a guy like that who is mobile and can throw.
The Spun: You grew up a fan of the New England Patriots. How would it feel to play under Bill Belichick?
TJ: Man, it would be a blessing. Being able to play for a team you grew up watching would be amazing. I know I would give everything I got to the franchise.
The Spun: Is there an NFL pass-rusher you currently study?
TJ: Oh definitely. I’m always trying to watch a bunch of pass-rushers to see what I can incorporate into my game. The one I watch the most though is DeMarcus Lawrence. He’s from my hometown and went to my high school. When I was young, DeMarcus was one of the guys I looked up to. I’ve always been watching tape on him to see what he does that makes him successful.
— Coastal Football (@CoastalFootball) December 31, 2020
Whichever NFL team drafts Jackson next year will be getting a defensive lineman capable of making plays by Week 1. Who knows, maybe he’ll end up suiting for the Patriots, his favorite team growing up.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.