'4th and Forever' Follow-Up: Devin Jackson Answers Your Questions
Defensive lineman Devin Jackson had a lot to prove his senior year at Long Beach Poly. Not only did he juggle athletics, academics, and dating, he helped bring extra income to his family by selling Cutco knives door-to-door.
The insightful 18-year-old Air Force hopeful spoke with Current.com's Daniela Capistrano about how things have changed for him since the show, his plans for the future, and what really went down with him and his ex-girlfriend Courtney.
Daniela Capistrano: What do you hope fans of the show learned by watching it?
Devin Jackson: First and foremost, I want people to know that (for me) family is the center of everything. I don't provide for my parents, my parents provide for me. [My job selling knives] was just a small support and that was a temporary situation. I'm not this great guy who went out and sold knives for years. I did do it for my family, but that was extra money that came in.
I was never the sole man of the house. My dad was, and still is, and there is no reason to take credit for anything he's done. He's done so much for me -- teaching me how to be a man and how to help in that way, so I took [that job] in my free time to help make money for my family. Yes, it was at a point, a desperate situation, where we needed the money, but that happens in every family. I'm not better than anyone else, it's just that failure was never an option.
Devin: I don't think that people know how strong of a bond we [the team] have as brothers. We may not always get along but we care about each other, on and off the field. It's how a team should be, like brothers. And our coaches are like father figures.
I love meeting new people, love doing different things. I don't want to be like someone else, I want to do something different with my life. I want to help people. What I want people to know is that behind everything [on the show], we're real people; we're just like your average teenagers -- there's just a camera in front of us. But there is nothing average about what we've [the Jackrabbits] done as brothers or where we came from.
When you put a task in front of people that is challenging or above what they are used to, when they are pushed, most people will rise to the occassion. And that's what we, as a team, have done.
People should understand that we are a whole different ream in spirit, in person. We're real, that's about it.
D.C.: How has your Poly experience prepared you for life after school?
D.J.: Poly football prepared me in a lot ways for life, for the future. I have big ambitions for myself, what I want to do for myself. [Poly] taught me about not giving up, to do what you have to do.
There's a lot of speculation in high school. You think it's this great thing, but after, you have to understand its not typical of life at all, it's just a stepping stone.
From the field, I've taken that you can't judge a book by its cover. People you meet, situations you're in -- you have to step up to the plate and handle businesses. You can't expect things to be given to you.
It's a lot easier said than done though though, like on the field, some people are naturally great and some have to work and work toward it to develop that skill. After years and years of that, we build kind of a relentless attitude to do whatever it takes to get what you want. It's a model of getting better and better, it sticks to you. It's like second nature, and every year you understand more what it means.
During those ups and downs you find out what kind of a man you are. It's a true test of who you are.
D.C.: What was your favorite moment of the season that wasn't on the show?
D.J.: There were so many moments... Once, during sophomore year, we were in the weight room and we got into trouble. Our coach, Greg Washington, everyone is scared of him. He's also our mentor in the weight room and the go-to guy we look to for everything when it comes to inspiration. If we're too prideful to ask, he'll say words that like... no question, he's real.
So this one time, we got into trouble and he told everyone to drop down to push up position and do 200 push ups. And some people were like, "Whatever." And [when we reached] 50 [push ups], coach said, "I want you to look around and realize that you have an opportunity to change the history of Poly this year. You can be national champions and you can change how everyone looks at Poly. You don't deserve to wear this jersey if you don't understand the team we will be. Play as a team. Be as a team."
He really captured our attention. His message taught us that we are only strong when we're together -- that's our strongest moment. When we want to be individuals [on the field], that's when we'll fall.
When you're in that room doing set after set, working out, we were sweating so much. We were in our our own puddle of sweat. The mirrors in our weight room were covered in nothing but fog and steam, you couldn't even see your hand in the mirror. You could smell and see the intensity in the room. Coach Washington said, "I won't ever give up on you," and he told us a story about being in the Navy Seals. After that, everyone was so inspired we just repped out 100 more [push ups], we were so on fire at that moment.
That was the moment we realized as a team what we could do together. We were together as brothers. It may have been a small moment in time, but to everyone that day, it was a crucial experience. After that, we had a great day of practice. It was a great day.
In the end, we may have lost, but we took way more away from losing that game then the other team did by winning. We took so much away from it.
D.C.: How did having cameras around change anything?
D.J.: In a way, it brought unwanted attention to our team. It was like something different no one had experienced before. For the team, it was crazy. When it started, we were all hyped, like, "Wow, no one has had cameras at their school!" But then the coaches gave us a reality check; regardless of cameras, we still had to perform. And we got it through our heads in the first week or so and then carried on, after that we didn't care about it [cameras] anymore.
[The experience] was great but it was different. It affected me by showing me that, because it was broadcast nationwide... it wasn't the fact that we're on TV, but the simple fact that there are plenty of other people out there just like me in the exact situation, just in different places. It was crazy to me because I felt like through the show I was connecting with people just like me.
I think that's what it changed about my perspective -- that the world is so big, so full of people, you shouldn't box yourself in and that there are people [in the world] with worse situations.
D.C.: Where does your relationship stand with Courtney?
D.J.: It's different than what people think. As much as [the show didn't] say, we rely on each other. I know it sounds crazy, and the scene made it seem like we just broke up, but things are different in person than on TV, there are always two sides to every story.
There there were so many factors to what really happened, [the audience] wouldn't really know. I think all the young students probably understand more things that weren't seen that went on, but at the same time, [Courtney and I] talk... but then again we don't.
It's crazy, there hasn't been a day that I don't think about her, or a day when she doesn't tell me how much she loves me, how much she needs me. Not in the sense of "needy," but to where we have this strong bong beyond a relationship. We actually care, genuinely care, about each other. We've been through a lot.
Yeah, [our breakup] was public, but nothing can take away your true love for someone as good friends or as boyfriend/girlfriend, wife or husband -- that kind of genuine love will stick with you throughout your life. Nothing can actually surpass or break that strong of a bond. We may not be best of friends now, but it doesn't mean I don't care about her. She's pretty chill. She's a great person.
D.C.: What's next for you?
D.J.: Right now I'm trying to enjoy my summer, working for a bank, training, getting ready to do some traveling, and going to the Air Force and getting into the Academy from there. In a couple of months I will enlist.
The Air Force is great because, like any other part of military, you get full benefits and you can play a sport, and it's a commitment. It shows you can be more of a man. I'm not saying it's better than college, but it is like it at same time; you get a lot of benefits than going straight to college but you still have friends, abilities open up, like for other college kids.
D.C.: Who are you listening to right now? Which artists inspire you?
D.J.: There's a lot that inspires me. I like to be diverse. Right now I'm listening to Gypsy Kings -- their guitarist is bomb, he's beasty and real. I also listen to 2Pac. His song, "Concrete Rose," it goes "Beautiful as a rose that grew of concrete." It depicts in a small amount of words what he went through.
You have to be a rose that grew from concrete, that no one expects to be there, that diamond in the rough that was never expected but was always there, that untamed creature everyone has inside... he showed that in his music. He always told people to keep their head up. He had a different outlook on life. I can relate to him in a lot of ways, I think a lot of people can.
I like Biggie for similar reasons, just because he's east coast doesn't mean I can't relate to him. When you listen [to his music], it's something you can bump, something that's real. I love listening to those two, they are great. Drake is beastly too, he's chill. I love all his songs.
For me it's pretty simple -- music feeds my soul. It's what gets me through my day, through everything. When you put on music, it's a drug that's addicting but that won't hurt you. Music is a love that doesn't stop giving, it's just a continuous flow of love that pours into my soul. Music says what you can't say. It lets your feelings out.
We'll be featuring more interviews with Poly players right here on the "4th and Forever" blog. Are you a Jackrabbits fan? Leave your feedback and best wishes for Devin and the rest of the team in the comments below. Need some inspiration? Check out what fans said in our interactive infographic.