Scott Jackson, Anchor at the Center | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Scott Jackson, Anchor at the Center

His teammates call him "Scotty-J", but Head Coach Gary Crowton calls him "Steve."

"I'm not really sure why he started calling me Steve," said Scott Jackson, this year's starting center for the Cougars. "He knows who I am, but it's kind of a joke now I guess. He'll still call me Steve every now and then. It's pretty funny."

"Scotty-J" may not sound so fearsome, but the 6-5, 300-pound center is no joke. He means business every time he steps on the field. Jackson is in his senior season with the Cougars and says he's worked hard to earn his starting position.

As the starting center, Jackson will touch the football more than any other player on the Cougar squad. It is his job to make sure the ball is in the right hands every time BYU is on offense. It is also his job to make sure nobody touches the quarterback behind him. So, how much pressure does Jackson feel?

"Well, I've always got two or three guys on each side of me who are just as strong," Jackson said, who is one of the many talented centers to come through BYU's program. "I'm pretty confident in what we can do. Our O-Line is big, and we all know our jobs."

Offensive Line Coach Lance Reynolds has worked hard to build a front line strong enough to protect the quarterback. Reynolds has great confidence in Jackson's leadership.

"Scott is the leader on the offensive line," Reynolds said. "Because of the inexperience on the O-Line, Scott's leadership makes a huge difference -- not only to the other linemen, but to the quarterback."

Reynolds said he is confident in Jackson's ability to know what needs to get done. He said Jackson understands what defenses are doing and can make the right blocking calls to protect the quarterback.

Following his high school career in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif., several Pac-10 teams recruited Jackson, including Stanford, UCLA and USC.

Although this would seem to be a good thing for most high school graduating seniors, Jackson had a hard time deciding which program was right for him. He said it was a choice that really weighed on his mind. It came down to Stanford and BYU.

"Stanford was pretty convincing," Jackson said. "They had a great offer and there were a lot of LDS students there, which made my recruiting visit nice. But I chose to follow my family to BYU. My sister was also coming to BYU at the time and I wanted to be close to family. I feel like I made the right choice."

Jackson's family has always been an important influence in his life. He said his father, Jeff Jackson, was always his greatest mentor growing up. As Jackson only began playing football his freshman year of high school, his father was a huge support and helped him build confidence in himself.

Jackson has three sisters and one brother. His older sister, Alicia is a BYU graduate and his younger brother Robbie, is a part-time teacher at the Missionary Training Center while studying at BYU as a freshman.

His younger sister, Katie, is also a freshman at BYU. And, last but not least, Jackson has an 8-year-old sister, Lauren. Jackson refers to he and his siblings as the "Jackson Five."

According to Jackson, his favorite thing to do is...anything with his family. He loves to hang out with his family and spend time with his wife, Ashley. He and Ashley were married on June 29, 2002. They celebrated their one-year anniversary in June by having a quiet dinner in Salt Lake City.

Although Jackson is the center of attention on the field, he values the solitude of the mountains and nearby rivers.

Since Jackson was in high school, he has been an avid fly-fisherman with his brother and friends. He says he learned by just watching them. He uses whatever flies they tell him and just tries to have fun.

"I fly-fish any spare chance I get, which isn't as often as I would like," Jackson said. "That's one reason I love it here in Utah, I can fish just about anywhere. It's just relaxing."

While fly-fishing takes a certain amount of finesse, this 6-5 center also knows how to put together a pretty decent flower arrangement. That's right, I said flower arrangement. And he delivers them too.

Jackson and his wife own their own flower business -- "Provo Petals." They manage the flower shop from their home. Jackson helps his wife with the corsages and boutonnieres, but leaves the more complicated arrangements to her.

"I stay away from it if I can," Jackson said. "I don't want to mess it up. Ashley's really good at it, so I just do what she tells me and it all works out."

Although flowers and finesse play an important role in strengthening the heart and mind, these massive linemen don't get massive on tulips and trout. Jackson works out in the gym a couple of hours a day. He currently benches 440 and squats over 600 pounds. But big doesn't always mean slow. Jackson also runs a 4.94 forty.

When Jackson arrived at BYU in 1999, following a two-year Church mission in Dallas, Texas, he only weighed 260 pounds. He has since put on 40 additional pounds. Jackson said he doesn't have a specific diet. He generally eats a lot of whatever is quick, easy to prepare, and somewhat nutritious.

His size and agility was a plus in high school as well. A three-year letter winner at Peninsula High in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif., Jackson was named the all-west, all-state, and L.A. Times Lineman of the Year as a senior.

Following his two-year mission, Jackson returned to BYU. Prior to fall camp, Jackson suffered a broken left fibula. Doctors put 11 screws and one plate in his left ankle in a surgery that allowed him only to watch from the sidelines for most of his 2000 freshman campaign.

He worked out a lot with BYU's strength and conditioning coach, Jay Omer.

Jackson said many players have referred to Omer as the "miracle man." He seems to have a knack for helping any player recover from any injury.

Take Jernaro Gilford for example. Gilford played through pain for several games with an injured knee and underwent surgery, but with coach Omer's help, Gilford's knee is 100 percent this season.

Brandon Heaney is another player many fans remember seeing walk off the field during most games last season holding his lifeless arm, then return the next game to make tackles and interceptions.

Heaney's shoulder separated as part of a reoccurring injury in numerous games. Coach Omer performed his magic on Heaney as well. Unfortunately, in the Georgia Tech game Heaney suffered an injury to the opposite shoulder that would end his season. He is still working with Coach Omer.

Gilford and Heaney both began this season with full range of motion and were significant parts of BYU's defensive backfield against Georgia Tech. Jackson said practice does not get any easier for someone who is injured. Coach Omer works them into the ground, but they get better.

"It is extremely important that these players stick to the diet and workout I put them on when they get injured," Coach Omer said. "They have to get back as fast as they can. We can't have our best players sitting on the bench."

Omer said Jackson is an extremely hard worker. He said Jackson has always done what he needed to do to make himself better.

"It's nice to be back on the field in no time," Jackson said. "Coach Omer knows his stuff. You just have to trust him."

In 2001, Jackson competed in eight regular season games where he played offensive line for the No. 1 offense in the nation and provided protection for Heisman Trophy candidate Brandon Doman. As part of the offensive line, Jackson was also a key blocker for Doak Walker Award winner Luke Staley.

At the end of the 2001 season, Jackson was plagued once again with an injury that put him back on the operating table. He suffered a tear to his right ACL, a ligament that holds the tibia and fibula to the femur bone at the knee.

He hit the weight room once again with Coach Omer.

"It's pretty frustrating to be on the sideline and not be able to play," Jackson said. "But those things just happen. It's all part of the game. You just have to try and stay as strong as you can so that when the injuries do happen, the rehab is faster."

As if two major injuries weren't enough, Jackson suffered another frustrating injury to his left knee in the New Mexico game four weeks ago. He tore his MCL, which is not as severe a tear as the ACL.

Jackson paced the sideline at the Stanford game as he watched his offensive line work hard to protect quarterback John Beck. Back-up center Vincent Hanale stepped in for Jackson for the entire game.

"They did a great job against a tough defense," Jackson said. "It's just hard to stand on the side and not be able to play."

After so many serious injuries in such a short period of time, Jackson continues to return to the field. He attributes his desire to continue playing to the friendships that only develop on the field.

"It's a camaraderie that you can't find anywhere else," Jackson said. "Especially after a tough loss, it seems like we come together in practice and in the locker room. There is a sense of accomplishment playing as a team."

As a junior last season, Jackson was named a Phil Steele College Football Preview second team All-Mountain West Conference selection. He also earned All-MWC honorable mention honors and was a member of the All-Mountain West Conference Academic team. Jackson started all 12 games as center last season.

"My most memorable game as a Cougar was when we played San Diego

State my sophomore season," Jackson said. "I was standing there watching when Jason Scukanec, our starting center, was injured after only two plays. I played the remainder of the game."

"It was the first time I was put in when it really mattered, and it was in San Diego, so I had a lot of family there watching. That made it more special."

Jackson said a real sign of what this team could accomplish came last season when BYU came from behind to defeat Utah State in Logan. He said they pulled together and played really well together as a team.

"I thought there was something special about coming from behind to win," Jackson said. "I really wish we could have built off of it and kept going the rest of the season. I think it turned a lot of heads when people saw what we could really do."

In the 2002 season, coach Crowton shuffled through his depth of quarterbacks to confuse defenses and move the ball. While this could have thrown any center off of his rhythm, Jackson said he just concentrated on doing his job and didn't worry about who Crowton was sending in. He said he just trusted coach Crowton and did the best he could.

"It has been a lot more stable this year, but it doesn't matter, I'll still get the ball to whichever quarterback is in there," Jackson said. "As far as the offensive line goes, we'll block for whoever is behind us. It's exciting, we've got some great athletes at the quarterback position."

Despite all of his injuries and setbacks, Jackson is happy with his success here at BYU and in life. He loves his wife and looks forward to a great life ahead. For now, Jackson just wants to concentrate on staying healthy and playing hard.

The Edifice Complex

Scott Jackson is trying to follow a prestigious line of eight all-conference centers from BYU in the past 50 years: Trevor Matich, Scott Nielson, Bart Oates, Orrin Olsen, Mel Olson, Garry Pay, Jason Scukanec, and Bob Stephens.

We've misused the word center, but have a little fun with us as we recollect who some of BYU's good centers have been. There's lots of centers around, so we came up with a few definitions to match some past Cougar centers.

Conference Center: Elder Craig Christensen (1974-78), who was appointed to the Church's Second Quorum of the Seventy a year ago. He was a backup center on BYU's inaugural Holiday Bowl of 1978.

Delta Center: Bart Oates (1980-82), because he is from the South where Delta Airlines has its main hub in Georgia, and he's logged more flying miles than any other BYU pro center.

E Center: Jimmy Richards (1996-99), because he is from nearby West Jordan High in the Salt Lake Valley. Weighing in at 305 when he played, he could qualify for the center of gravity, but was quick and skilled on his feet.

Epicenter: Larry Moore (1995-96), who is from the earthquake-prone California and went on to play for the pros after helping BYU to a Cotton Bowl Victory in 1996.

Huntsman Special Events Center: Mike Bailey (1971), who transferred from Utah and was one of the Orem High Bailey brothers to play for BYU.

Kennedy Space Center: Garry Pay (1990-92), who prepped at Apollo High, in Glendale, Arizona.

Mayo Center: Brian Rodoni (1985-87), who overcame a career-ending brain tumor in 1987 and is now in the dairy-cattle business in California.

Missionary Training Center: Jim Edwards (1989-94), now a Seminary teacher in Idaho, is one of the many BYU football players who have served missions (he served in The Philippines). Edwards is an Eagle Scout and no relation to former BYU Coach LaVell Edwards, who also has a son named Jim that played for BYU. LaVell was a center at Utah State as well as a linebacker.

Morris Center: Morris Unutoa (1989-95), a Polynesian who went on to play pro ball even though he ate at the Cannon Center where the Cougars had Training Table, instead of the Morris Center at BYU.

Polynesian Cultural Center: Robert Anae (1982-84), from Hawai`i, switched from center to guard to help the 1984 undefeated season become successful, and Hanale Vincent (2001-present), who is also from Hawai`i and is the backup center this season. Note, see the Morris Center for Morris Unutoa.

Provo Towne Center: Orrin Olsen (1972-75), even though he moved to nearby Orem as a prepster from Logan and now lives in American Fork. The All-American little brother of Merlin and Phil works in Provo for BYU and the LDS Foundation.

Sports Center: Trevor Matich (1979-84), the center for the 1984 national championship Cougars. Matich went into football broadcasting after his BYU and NFL career, so he could make it on ESPN's Sports Center.

Utah Valley Regional Medical Center: Scott Jackson (2000-present), because he has had two injuries which have required surgery in past seasons.

Wilkinson Center: Mel Olson (1964-69), he played center and linebacker, then coached the centers under former BYU President Ernest L. Wilkinson. Olson, who coached for the Cougars from 1971-89, is now a professor of coaching at BYU.