Green Hope Grad Wins National Championship

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Green Hope Grad Wins National Championship

Austin Jackson with coach Dabo Swinney

Austin Jackson with coach Dabo Swinney

@austjax_ Instagram Page

Austin Jackson with coach Dabo Swinney

@austjax_ Instagram Page

@austjax_ Instagram Page

Austin Jackson with coach Dabo Swinney

PJ Fenton, Sports Writer

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The most recent national champion in Cary, North Carolina is Austin Jackson, a 2015 Green Hope Graduate. Austin, a redshirt junior defensive back for Clemson helped the Tigers beat the Crimson Tide of Alabama 44-16 last night in the college football national championship game in Santa Clara, California. For those lucky enough to win a national championship, it is almost always a once in a lifetime experience, almost. Austin is an exception. He also won the national championship his sophomore season making him a 2x champ.

For Austin, the road to becoming a national champion wasn’t clear and most people, even in Cary, wouldn’t have predicted it. Going into his senior year at Green Hope, Austin was an all-american track star and was focused on running in college. He was still a very good football player and one of the best wide receivers in the area. Before his senior year, he was leaning towards the decision of not playing football his senior year to spend more time training for track. With some convincing from his family, friends and teammates, Austin decided to come back for one last season. Coach Dixon made the decision to move Austin to the defensive side of the ball and it turned out to be a huge success. Austin instantly made an impact with his size and speed, leading the Falcons on the defensive side of the ball. With the change from a good wide receiver to an elite defensive player, the Falcons went from a decent team his junior season to the best team in school history his senior year, becoming Southwest Wake Athletic Conference Champions. Colleges took notice of Austin’s success and began to recruit him heavily. Austin realized his future in football and set his sights on playing football at the division 1 level. Austin saw his dream come true when he signed a full scholarship to East Tennessee State University to continue his football career. After signing his scholarship, Austin went to work. He worked extremely hard in hopes that he would make an immediate impact at ETSU, and that is exactly what he did. He earned the starting safety position and finished his freshman year with 32 tackles. Coach Dabo Swinney of Clemson took notice of Austin’s success and offered him a spot on his team, starting the next semester. So after one semester at ETSU, Austin transferred to Clemson. At Clemson, Austin had to sit out his first year due to NCAA transfer rules, but continued to practice and work hard. His first year, the Tigers won the national championship, his second year they lost to Alabama in the semifinal and this year they revenged their loss to Alabama and won again. Austin has worked just as hard in the classroom as he has on the field and will be graduating in May. Due to the year he had to sit out when he transferred, Austin has one year left of eligibility and will be looking to make a contribution on the field while working on a graduate degree. Although Austin didn’t have the typical path of a National Champion, his unlikely journey makes the success even more admirable.