Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Support system in place, Bryce Jackson has been a valuable addition to Aggies defense

LAS CRUCES – Bryce Jackson has been a key addition to the New Mexico State defense this season.

Jackson came to Las Cruces due to a prior relationship with former UNLV head coach Tony Sanchez, who was already on Jerry Kill’s staff at NM State. The grad-transfer safety from Chandler, Arizona, was also able to land an opportunity for his younger brother, Bryant, as a walk on linebacker.

“Coach Kill definitely helped out in my situation and my brother,” Jackson said. “He gave me an opportunity and my brother an opportunity to earn a spot on the team. It means everything to get the opportunity to help my brother out. I just keep his mindset right and it pushes me to be a better person on and off the field.”

With a support system in place, Jackson added experience and leadership to the Aggies defensive backfield that the unit was lacking.

New Mexico State closes homestand against balanced San Jose State

“He came in and outworked people and gained the respect of the team, which is not easy for a one-year transfer,” Nm State defensive coordinator Nate Dreiling said. “He does a phenomenal job on the field that everyone sees, but how he grooms younger guys and gets them ready is what nobody else sees. That is what he brings the most to the program. He is the biggest hit that we have had. “

The Jackson brothers won back-to-back state championships in Arizona at Chandler High School as teammates. Bryce was a varsity starter when Bryant Jackson moved to varsity during his freshman year as a running back and linebacker.

“Our mom was big into sports our whole life,” Bryant Jackson said. “We started out wrestling, but we did football, basketball and track. She worked a lot but we never missed a practice or a game.”

The Jackson brothers played for current Arizona State interim coach Shaun Aguano.

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“I always recruited (Aguano’s) teams and I trusted him,” said Sanchez, who was the head coach at UNLV from 2015-19. “Bryce was not a highly recruited guy because of his height and some of those things that maybe don’t measure up, but he can sure play football. We loved him on film and watched him through his senior year. Through the recruiting process, “I got to meet his family and his mother kept in contact with me the whole time, even when I was gone from UNLV. This year when we saw that he was in the portal, that was the first call. Sometimes it works out where you.” have a previous relationship with a kid. Once he got a chance to meet (defensive backs coach Melvin Rice) and Coach Kill, it was a trifecta.”

NMSU safety Malachi McLean and defensive back Bryce Jackson tackle a UNM player during the NMSU v.  UNM football game on Saturday, Oct.  15, 2022, at Aggies Memorial Stadium.

Jackson started for three years at UNLV in the secondary.

Bryant Jackson was on two more state championship teams at Chandler, and was most recently working at Top Golf in Tucson, going to school and tried to walk on at the University of Arizona when his older brother landed at NM State.

“He called me and said there may be an opportunity here for me,” Bryant Jackson said. “It’s a good security blanket. I look up to my brother a lot. He’s the ideal man I would like to be. He has good character and he grinds, but he’s not too serious. He has a good balance.”

Bryce Jackson is third on the team in tackles with 40. He’s a good tackler in space and usually has the secondary lined up before the snap. He also has knowledge of Mountain West opponents, as Saturday’s home game against San Jose State is the Aggies fourth game against a Mountain West opponent this season.

“The schedule was definitely a big reason for coming here and the opportunity to play for this team,” Bryce Jackson said. “There are so many players and coaches and offenses that I have experience against as a player. A lot of the Mountain West offenses are similar so I can see which techniques I use that works and how I play it and learn from those plays and how it can help the game plan for those teams.”

Jackson has a key tackle for a late loss in the Aggies’ victory over New Mexico last week, but he wasn’t new to in state rivalry games after playing against Nevada once a year at UNLV.

“The environment on Saturday was amazing and the fans really showed out,” Bryce Jackson said. “It felt like Las Cruces had our back. Every rivalry game is big. I was glad to be part of it and bring a win to Las Cruces.”

Jason Groves can reached at [email protected] or 575-541-5459. Follow him on Twitter @jpgroves.

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