SPARTAN NATION EXCLSUIVE: Michigan State C Travis Jackson Talks QB Battle, Riley Bullough & His Recent Trip To Africa!
Q: Alright Trav. It’s so good seeing you healthy. They missed you. They need you. How good is it just to be back?
A: It’s awesome to be back out here with the guys. You kinda miss some of that camaraderie when you’re injured. So being back out here with everyone is so much fun. It’s such an honor. It really makes you thankful for the opportunities that you have.
Q: Trav, a lot of people don’t know about you just because they don’t know you. You’re a strong man of faith. You went on a mission’s trip this summer. It touched you. When I was talking to you privately about it, it touched you. The old saying, when you minister to others it does more ministering to you. What did it mean to you?
A: First things first in my life is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Most important thing to me, my faith is my most important thing. He’s the one who’s given me the opportunities to be here today. I’m most thankful for that. When I went to Africa, you think you’re going on a mission’s trip to help people. You talk to people and you show them love. But the thing you don’t realize about missions trips is that you get way more impacted by the people over there than you impact them. They’re just so thankful and happy for what they have. They have so much less than us here. It’s changed my perspective on life.
Q: That’s my next question…how did it change you? Because anyone that watches you play… You’re an elite player. You’re gonna have a chance to play on some Sundays. You’re a great football player. That doesn’t mean you can’t also be compassionate off the field. It touched you in a way. How did it change you?
A: It changed me because you get so caught up in things…getting to the next practice, getting to the next game. You’re all just about accomplishing your goals that you don’t really enjoy the ride. It’s really taught me to enjoy life and just to enjoy the things I have. So many of these kids didn’t have families, didn’t have support, just like what we have here with our football coaches and our teammates. So it just makes you thankful for the people in your life. They really showed you a kind of love that you don’t get to experience here in America.
Q: Now let’s talk some football. You talked about love. I’m noticing something different, and if I’m wrong please correct me because you know I wanna be right. I think that maybe you got a deeper appreciation for the game of football having to sit out last year. Am I reading you right? Because remember that practice right over here, where you had just gotten injured and you were on the cart and I just came over and kind of gave you a hug. You were hurting. There’s a different Travis on the field. Am I sensing that right?
A: Yeah, definitely. Like I said, you just never know when your last football play’s gonna be. You talk about it but until you get a severe injury it doesn’t really hit you. So you’re sitting out and you’re trying to get back and you’re rehabbing. You’ve got great players behind you just nipping at your heels to get your spot. It’s all part of the game, but you just don’t know when you’re gonna lose something that you love like football. So coming back out here you just really really make the most of every play, every opportunity.
Q: I’m not gonna ask you to be critical, but I’m gonna ask you to be honest. What is the difference between Andrew, Tyler and Connor? I’m not asking you to tell me this guy’s better, that guy’s not. That’s irrelevant. Coaches make that decision anyway. They don’t care what you or I think. But what’s the difference? How are they different? When you’re lining up at center, because you’ve snapped to all three, how are they different?
A: It’s really fun, because they all are very different. Maxwell just has the knowledge. He’s great, knows the field, knows what’s going on. And now he’s really starting to hit those throws that he wasn’t hitting last year, which is really exciting. You got a guy like Connor Cook; he’s just a playmaker. He goes out there, he can run it, throw it. He’s just the kind of guy that works off instincts. Tyler O’Connor is the young guy of the group, but you see him make some fantastic throws. He extends plays and gets it downfield, and that’s what he does well.
Q: Your smile tells it all. O’Connor’s fun to watch, isn’t he?
A: He’s a fun player to watch.
Q: One play I wanted to ask you about when you guys were scrimmaging earlier is you looked downfield and O’Connor’s down the field. When you have a guy like him or Connor Cook that will run more, is it sometimes weird? Because as an offensive guy you could be doing something over here and they’re down the field gone.
A: Yeah, sometimes it’s frustrating when the quarterback’s running the ball. They’re not quite running backs. But it’s fun because it kind of adds a new element to our offense. Next thing you know they’re running by you and we’re adding a couple things for more athletic quarterbacks. We have Damon Terry come in and, like I said, Connor Cook. Maxwell’s even running the ball a little bit now, so we’re excited about that.
Q: I gotta ask you about Andrew. You know this, I like Andrew. What a great kid. But he’s different this spring, and I’m gonna tell you how I think it is. Since you’re his main bodyguard you may disagree or not. I think this challenge, having a couple guys playing, I think he likes it. I think he’s embracing it. He’s got a confidence, not an arrogance. But the game’s slowed down for him. I think he’s having a graet spring. Am I misreading him?
A: No, when competition hits you can do one of two things. You can either run and hide, or you can embrace it and get going. He’s a guy that’s definitely embraced it and got going. It’s fun to watch them because they each elevate their play so much. It gets me excited to have Jack Allen back, and everyone healthy on the line, because it’s gonna elevate our offensive line plays so much.
Q: Last one and then I’ll let you go. Riley Bullough at running back. What do you think of the Rilemonster?
A: Wait, is that already…everyone knows about that? Gosh, I’m excited to see what he does. He’s a tough kid, man. He’s a Bullough. He’s a Bullough. Those guys are awesome. Max is awesome. Riley is awesome. And I’m sure when Byron comes in he’s gonna be awesome too.
Q: He’s a white Le’Veon but I don’t think he’s gonna jump anybody. He’ll just crush them.
A: No, he’s just running people over out there. It’s fun to watch someone play with such heart. He doesn’t really have the experience here with running back, but you can tell when someone plays with just their heart on their sleeve. And that’s exciting to watch.