Jackson is learning the ropes

Former USF wide receiver Amarri Jackson spent the last four years of his football career playing at Raymond James Stadium in front of thousands of students and fans cheering for the Bulls. Jackson will spend another year at Raymond James as a rookie in the NFL in front of thousands of fans cheering for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Two months ago, the Bulls saw cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams drafted into the NFL. Despite not being drafted, Jackson signed a free agent contract with a team that plays in a city an hour away from where he grew up in Sarasota.

“It’s been one of my dreams in life since I was a little kid to be able to play in the NFL,” Jackson said.

Playing alongside veterans such as wide receiver Joey Galloway, Jackson said he’s continuing to learn lessons on and off the field.

“You learn some new things from some veteran guys and from different professional coaches. One thing (rookies) learn is accountability: being on time and showing up for everything,” he said. “I’m learning how to carry myself with the amount of money that we make at this level. (Galloway) teaches me mostly stuff off the field because I’m young and he’s already been through it.”

With signing a contract worth millions of dollars comes newfound fame, friends and responsibility. Some athletes have been caught up in illegal situations and kicked off their teams because of it, including Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, who was arrested on numerous occasions.

Jackson is determined to stay out of trouble.

“It only happens to you if you have bad surroundings. Those guys put themselves in those situations,” he said. “I have friends that don’t go that route and I make decisions where I don’t put myself in that line of fire.”

The thought of signing multi-million-dollar contracts drives some athletes to the league. Jackson, however, said he is driven by the love of the game.

“Money is not my main motivation,” he said. “God blessed me with a lot of talent. I thank him every time I walk (on the field) and every day when I walk off the field. The money comes with the hard work. I just love to play the game.”

Jackson said he attributes his success and work ethic to his family’s support during his football career and his upcoming rookie season with the Bucs.

“My family has been really happy. Nobody’s big on money. They teach (me) to have fun and the money will come with it,” he said.

As a professional athlete, Jackson said he understands that there will be people trying to get close to him for his money.

“There are going to be a lot of people that start calling, some family members and friends that you haven’t talked to in years,” he said. “That’s going to happen. You have to manage your money regardless of how close a person is to you, or if the person is real or fake. You have to invest money and spend it wisely.”

While at USF, Jackson was preparing to play at the next level. Despite injuring his leg in his senior year, Jackson said he wasn’t worried about missing out on a professional career after college.

“I let God handle everything,” he said. “My leg is 100 percent now and I can run and move around again. I never got worried because once it healed, I knew I could play football again.”

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