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The Road Less Traveled: Remembering Khyree Jackson's Story

Khyree Jackson in his Oregon uniform
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Khyree Jackson, a former Oregon Duck and new Minnesota Viking cornerback, was killed in a fatal automobile accident at just 24 years old on Saturday. "At a loss for words," said Oregon coach Dan Lanning via X on Saturday morning.

The accident occurred in Maryland. The news left not only the Oregon fan base devastated and heartbroken, but also the entire country, too.

In April, Jackson was drafted in the fourth round by the Vikings and received rave reviews in camp from coaches and teammates. Jackson's final and most successful season was played with the Ducks in 2023. Prior to his stint in Eugene, he also played for Alabama after stints at Arizona Western College and Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. Jackson took the road less traveled and still found his way to the NFL.

Against All Odds

Jackson's story should serve as a reminder to us all that despite trials and tribulations, you should never give up. Jackson started in the JUCO world and had some early troubles catching rhythm in his young college career. However, his play picked up fast. One thing led to another, and his stardom eventually caught Alabama coach Nick Saban's eye.

The JUCO route is notorious for being a last-chance opportunity for players to showcase themselves to Division I coaches. While achieving your goals via JUCO is possible, it is extremely difficult and rare to see someone do it the way Khyree did. Jackson's size was that of your dream cornerback. He stood at roughly 6-foot-4 with a lighter frame of 194 pounds.

Khyree Jackson with the Alabama Crimson Tide
© Jamar Coach/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jackson's play earned him a spot on the Crimson Tide's roster in the 2021 season. He played two seasons under Saban, logging 21 games. He had 14 total tackles, a tackle for loss, and 2 pass breakups.

Ducks Fly Together

Following his second season with the Tide, Jackson decided to take his talents to Eugene. Lanning saw a diamond in the rough and brought out the best in Jackson.

Before the 2023 season, one could argue that Jackson didn't have enough reps to be selected where he would have liked in the NFL Draft. His 2023 season with Oregon may be what propelled him into being chosen.

Transferring to Oregon may have been one of the best decisions Jackson ever made. In that 2023 season, Jackson burst onto the scene. Certainly, his height and arm length would intrigue NFL scouts. Despite being on a big-name team such as Alabama, he didn't have enough tape. Lanning changed all of that. Jackson was an immediate starter who impacted the game as an elite man-press corner on the boundary.

Jackson's breakout game came against Colorado. They were an undefeated team at the time and attracted an extraordinary amount of attention from fans. Jackson had 3 pass deflections and 4 tackles that day. That may not sound impressive on paper, but his sticky coverage provided us with some remarkable tape reviews. After that, the rest was history. He would eventually become a fourth-round pick for the Minnesota Vikings.

Up until now, Jackson was catching the eyes of coaches and teammates for the Vikings. Jordan Addison was asked who was impressing him so far this summer, and his answer was Jackson. "Khyree (Jackson). Don't sleep on him," said Addison. The sky was the limit for him.

Rest in Peace, Khyree Jackson (1999-2024)

Jackson's resilient story should live on. Thanks to his hard work and determination, we should all remember him for achieving his dreams against all odds. The outpouring on X has been coming from fans and former teammates, showing what kind of person he was. May Khyree Jackson rest in peace, and his light continue shining on forever.


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