Huge TD return a great moment

Editor's note: Throughout the spring and summer, GatorNation will feature the series: "Where are they now?" Today's story is the first in the occasional series, and it centers on former Florida receiver Jack Jackson.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Jack Jackson was the second Florida receiver to flourish in Steve Spurrier's wide-open passing game, and he still holds a prominent place in the school's record book despite having played 17 years ago.

Jackson led the Gators in receptions in 1993 (51) and 1994 (57) and totaled 26 touchdown catches in those two seasons. He still ranks seventh on the school's all-time list with 143 career receptions, and his 29 career touchdown catches are tied for second, just two behind all-time leader Chris Doering (31).

Jackson's 2,266 yards receiving is fifth on the school's all-time list and he is tied with Bo Carroll and Pat Reen for the school record for the longest kickoff return. Jackson returned a kickoff 100 yards against Mississippi State in 1993.

Jackson was an All-American in 1994 after catching 57 passes for 855 yards and 15 touchdowns, which at the time was a Southeastern Conference single-season record. He also was second-team All-SEC in 1993 and was a first-team pick in 1994.

Where he is now: Jackson is the general manager at Gerry Lane Cadillac in Baton Rouge, La.

How he got there: Jackson left UF after his junior season and was a fourth-round selection of the Chicago Bears in 1995. He returned 27 kicks and caught four passes in his career with the Bears, all in the 1996 season.

The Bears waived Jackson in 1997 and he spent the next few seasons bouncing around the Canadian Football League. He also spent time with the Regional Football League, a spring league that began play in 1999. Jackson joined the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League during the 1999 season and played for AFL teams Carolina and Florida in 2000.

He moved to Baton Rouge in 2000 and started in automotive sales. He became the sales manager for Gerry Lane Hummer in 2004 and stayed in that position until 2009, when he left the car business for a stint in the insurance business. Eight months ago he joined Gerry Lane Cadillac as the general sales manager.

"I love the car business," Jackson said. "It's a lot like sports. Very competitive. New challenges every day. You get an adrenaline rush with a sale. It's one of the few things that I found that actually gives you that adrenaline rush that sports give you."

Family: Jackson is married (Amy) and has two children, a 17-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son (Tre). Dimond Jackson is a high school junior who plays point guard on the basketball team. Jackson says she has scholarship offers from numerous schools, including Ole Miss, Alabama and North Carolina. Tre Jackson is a freshman receiver/cornerback in high school and Jackson said the LSU coaching staff has shown some early interest in his son. He said he expects UF to become involved soon, too, especially since his former college roommate Aubrey Hill is UF's receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Jackson said he briefly considered becoming a coach but quickly discarded the idea because he didn't want to be away from home too much.

"I didn't particularly care about having to travel for recruiting, and I had small kids at the time," he said. "I wanted to coach my own kids and spend time with them and train them. I opted to do that.

"I miss the competitiveness, the routine of working out and being with the guys a little bit, but I really enjoy watching my kids do those things more so than me missing myself doing it. I get more of a rush of watching them perform and train."

Favorite UF memory: Jackson naturally said his 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against MSU is one of his favorite memories, but the other is a play later that season that didn't result in a touchdown.

With the Gators backed up against their own goal line against South Carolina, Jackson caught a screen pass, evaded a tackler in the end zone, and raced 73 yards before finally being pulled down. UF went on to win 37-26.

"I caught a bubble screen to the left," Jackson remembered. "A guy hit me in the end zone -- should have been a safety -- but he bounced off and I went 73 yards."

Jackson made a lot of big plays in his career, but he said he's most proud of the fact that he was part of the foundation of a program that would go on to win three national championships.

"Mark [Campbell, a former UF defensive lineman] and myself had the conversation, and Kevin Carter and I have had this conversation, too," Jackson said. "You see guys that are reaping the benefits from basically the foundation that was laid from 1990 to '96. The people that played in those five, six years have a true understanding of how far that program has come. I don't think the guys today really, really appreciate what the players from that era did to put Florida football where it is today."