Small, but spirited

The man is fearless.

“He plays with a reckless abandon,” said associate men’s basketball coach Lamont Franklin.

Sophomore guard Dominique Jackson from Immokalee has developed an intrepid attitude in his life that has matriculated onto the basketball court.

“I think sometimes he gets a little too carefree and that causes him some problems, but he’s a guy that doesn’t back down from anything,” Franklin said.

His valiant attitude while playing football in high school did in fact cause him a major problem.

As a junior in October 1999, he was playing wide receiver and went to block up-field during a screen pass. The courageous Jackson lowered his head to lay a safety out and collided at the point of contact with one of his teammates that he didn’t see.

“As soon as I hit him all of the feeling left (my body), I dropped down to the ground and I couldn’t move,” said Jackson, who fractured the fourth and fifth vertebrae in his neck on the play.

“I was in the emergency room and the first thing I wanted to know was if I can play basketball (again) because that’s my first love.”

He ended up having surgery the same night and prior to that, after the X-rays where developed, the doctors told Jackson that basketball would be in his future.

“I was happy that the doctors told me that I could play basketball again,” Jackson said. “That just motivated me to work harder in the off-season.”

The injury caused Jackson to miss his entire junior basketball season as he battled through eight months of rehabilitation.

However, this athlete made a dramatic return during his senior year at Glen Mills Preparatory School in Pennsylvania and his stellar play earned him a trip back to his home state to play at Florida A&M.

“I missed a year of basketball, therefore I have to work hard and try to catch up,” Jackson said.

After an impressive freshman season, in which he was the team’s third leading scorer averaging 9.4 points per game, Jackson was named to the All Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Rookie Team.

But the 6-foot-2 inch, 165-pound body of this stubborn competitor wore down as the year went along, therefore the coaches made his physical maturation priority coming into this season.

“He has to get stronger physically,” said head coach Mike Gillespie. “I think that is the one thing that is holding him back from greatness right now is his upper body strength.”

Coach Franklin agreed, “For him to take it the next level and to get to be one of the premiere players in our league he’s physically got to pay the price and put the work in – in the weight room.”

Jackson had a terrific start to this season, scoring 20 points in the Rattlers’ first regular season game against Xavier, which is currently ranked No. 23 nationally.

Since then he has fit nicely into a the six guard rotation used by Coach Gillespie, in which he’s been in and out of the starting line-up.

“He’s contributed at the one, two and three, whatever we needed him to play,” said junior guard Terrence Woods, the Rattlers leading scorer.

“As far as (him being) an all-around player, he kind of reminds me of myself a little bit (because) he can stroke the ball and play multiple positions.”

Jackson is versatile because as coach Gillespie described him, he is a tremendous shooter, an excellent passer and a great defender.

Most importantly, Jackson is not afraid to step up and try to make big plays because over everything this warrior wants to win.

“He is a young man that has really had to handle some adverse situations in his life and I think he has done a wonderful job,” Gillespie said.

“I think before it is all done, he could become one of the best players that has ever played here at Florida A&M University.”