- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After signing a two-year contract with the Patriots on Dec. 10, cornerback Chevis Jackson is hoping his fresh start is the springboard for an NFL revival.
Jackson entered the NFL as a high third-round draft choice (68th overall) of the Atlanta Falcons in 2008. But Jackson was waived coming out of training camp and spent six weeks on unemployed until he was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars Oct. 18. He played two games for Jacksonville, was inactive for three others, before being waived Nov. 17.
In joining the Patriots, the 5-foot-11, 193-pound Jackson returns to a defensive system that is similar to what he played in college at LSU under Nick Saban, a former assistant to Bill Belichick.
Sitting in front of his temporary blue locker in the New England locker room, Jackson shared his football journey with ESPNBoston.com:
When he first started playing football: "I started playing ball when I was 7 or 8 years old, in Mobile, Alabama. It was for the Municipal Park Raiders."
Why he first started playing: "I guess my mom felt I was a little hyper, so she started getting me into sports to calm me down. It started off as something fun, something to do."
First position: "Running back."
Favorite player: "Deion [Sanders]. Also, Barry Sanders."
Favorite teams growing up: "The 49ers. The '94 49ers, specifically, with Steve Young, John Taylor, Jerry Rice, Ricky Watters, Deion. Merton Hanks. ..."
Mentors in his life: "I'd say my mom. She did a lot for me growing up -- single parent, with me and my sisters. From her, I learned how to work hard and never give up."
Top memories of playing at St. Paul's Episcopal High School in Mobile: "We had a playoff game against Briarwood Christian, playing against Simeon Castille. He was the best in the state and I had a good game against him. Overall, it was just playing with the guys, hanging out before the games. It's high school football -- Friday Night Football, under the lights."
Why he decided to attend LSU: "I just wanted to be different. Everyone was expecting me to go to Alabama or Auburn. Then JaMarcus Russell went to LSU. We were in the same district and played against him in high school. They recruited me, with [Nick] Saban and [Will] Muschamp and all those guys, and I liked it."
Top memory at LSU: "It would have to be the national championship year and the SEC Championship that same year. Probably my senior year was the best year."
The environment at "Death Valley": "Just great. You come out of that tunnel, 92,000 purple jerseys everywhere, you get goosebumps the first time you run out. It is probably one of the best stadiums in the nation."
Drafted by the Falcons in the third round: "That was the year that the first- and second rounds were on Saturday, so I was on my way to church [Sunday]. I was driving in the car and got the call. It was a great city and that's where home is now. My family got me to watch me a lot. Going to the playoffs my first year there was great, picking off Kurt Warner, and taking back a pick of Drew Brees 95 yards [for a touchdown in the regular season]."
Why things didn't work out in Atlanta: "I'm the wrong person to be asking. It is what it is. Everything happens for a reason, so I'm here now, and happy to be here."
Hooking on with the Jaguars briefly this season: "It was just a pit-stop. The guys were great."
Signing with the Patriots: "I'm focused on finding my niche. It's a nice franchise, strictly business, and everybody knows their position and their role, and everybody does what they have to do."
Summing up his football journey: "It's been good, with a lot of great memories. It doesn't stop here. I enjoy going out there with a bunch of guys -- hitting, running -- just like it's in the backyard. Hopefully I get a couple of more years and we'll see."