Growing up, Damian Jackson dedicated himself to athletics — baseball, soccer and snowboarding. After high school, the six-foot-two-inch man from Las Vegas decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps and enroll in the Navy, where he soon found himself in six months of SEAL training.
After hundreds of hours of drills, thousands of reps of workouts and the infamous Hell Week, Jackson became Lead Breacher in a SEAL platoon, specializing in explosives and obstruction removal. Then after two deployments, Jackson’s time as a SEAL came to an end, and a new journey began.
Despite never playing football before, in 2017, Jackson decided to join the University of Nebraska football team as a walk on, determined to make the roster. After quickly proving himself as a leader, a promising athlete and one hell of a defensive player, Jackson earned himself a spot on the roster. This year, Jackson has played snaps in nine out of 10 of the Cornhusker’s 2021 regular-season games. For Jackson, failure is not a fear and quitting is never an option.
Jackson embodies the spirit and values of Twin Peaks Restaurant, making him a perfect NIL partner for the ultimate sports lodge. As a former military member himself, Jackson shares the same passion for helping veterans in need. That’s why through the partnership, for every touchdown Nebraska scores this season, Twin Peaks will donate $100 to Folds of Honor – a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members.
Jackson answered a few questions about his journey from the Navy SEALs to UNL and his new partnership with Twin Peaks:
Twin Peaks: How did your time in the military prepare you for football, and what advice do you give to others who may want to follow in your footsteps?
Damian Jackson: The military made me into the man I am today, and it made me a team player. When I joined the football team, I was a little bit older than the rest of the guys, but I embraced them, and they embraced me the moment I walked into that locker room. It doesn’t matter how we all got to this point because we are now one team with the same goal.
My philosophy for life has always been to do it all for the greater good and learn from each experience. I encourage anyone looking to play college football to soak in the wisdom of the players on your team. Football is much more than a sport. It is an opportunity to grow and develop as a person. I would tell someone to respect your older teammates and coaches and have pride in the fact that you’re able to be there.
TP: Did you play football growing up?
DJ: I didn’t play football at all growing up. That shocks a lot of people, but I only played baseball and soccer. Once I got to the Navy, put on some muscle and received some military-grade conditioning, I knew I wanted to go to college and play a sport. When my service was finished, I put my head down and went for it.
TP: Why did you choose Nebraska, and what is your favorite part about playing for the Cornhuskers?
DJ: I originally learned about Nebraska and its football program from a family friend. When I was starting to look around at schools, I looked at the Top 25, saw Nebraska and the rest was history!
My favorite part is playing in front of our fans at Memorial Stadium. We have the best fan base in the country. After hours and hours of hitting the weight room, practicing and watching film, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing all our hard work come together and the excitement and energy that the fans bring to the stadium.
TP: What’s next for you and what advice do you have for people who are wanting to try something different in their life?
DJ: I am going to take football as far as I can, starting with the extra year of eligibility we received due to the pandemic. My whole life has been full of moments where I just take a leap of faith to see what is possible, and it has worked out well so far. There’s no reason why others can’t pursue their dreams by just going for it. I would tell someone to at least give themselves a chance by putting their foot forward and seeing what happens. Even if you do get rejected at first, instead of looking at it as a failure, you have to view it as an opportunity to try again.
TP: On June 30, 2021, the NCAA introduced new opportunities for athletes by announcing that they will be able to benefit from their name, image and likeness. What are your thoughts on the NIL partnership for college athletes?
DJ: I think it’s a great opportunity for athletes to expand their brand and capitalize on the hard work they have put in to reach this level. As soon as the news broke, I thought, “hell yes!”
NIL partnerships give us athletes an opportunity to partner with brands that align with our values and interests, and we have the chance to express ourselves and achieve a bigger purpose. I’m going to enjoy this process and try to raise as much money as we can for Folds of Honor by playing great football with my teammates this season. Go Big Red!
To learn more about Twin Peaks Restaurant, visit twinpeaksrestaurant.com.