FORT WORTH, TEXAS (FWAA) – University
of Nebraska linebacker and military veteran Damian Jackson
has been selected as the 10th recipient of the Armed Forces
Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America
Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces
Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created
in June 2012 "to honor an individual and/or a group within
the realm of the sport of football."
Brant Ringler, executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed
Forces Bowl, and Heather Dinich, FWAA president, announced Jackson
as the recipient Wednesday during a teleconference. Jackson was
selected from a list of 31 nominations (28 individuals and three
programs) as the 2021 recipient by a nine-person committee made
up of FWAA members and Bowl officials.
"Damian has distinguished himself as a collegiate football
player after serving four years in the Navy," said Ringler. "Damian’s
off-the-field involvement at Nebraska has been remarkable and we
have followed his progress in Lincoln for the past three seasons
since he was also a finalist for the Armed Forces Merit Award in
Dinich added: "Jackson joins a list of remarkable individuals
and programs that have been recipients of the Armed Forces Merit
Award. With so many deserving individuals and programs, it is difficult
to honor only one recipient annually."
Jackson has been a valuable producer for the Husker defense in
2021, serving as a backup linebacker for the Blackshirts after moving
from the defensive line. He played in Nebraska’s first nine games,
totaling a season-high two tackles and a quarterback hurry in the
win over Northwestern.
Jackson, who did not play high school football, was a Navy SEAL
for four years before walking on to the Husker program in 2017.
He has played in the Huskers' last 15 games dating back to the 2020
Off the field, Jackson is a Child, Youth and Family Studies major
who is on track to graduate this December and has been on the Nebraska
Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll seven times. He has been involved with
the Nebraska Football Road Race and a Day of Service, while also
participating in local hospital visits.
Earlier this fall, Jackson was featured in a remembrance video
on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. He will also be featured
this Saturday on ESPN’s GameDay telecast.
"It is an honor to have Damian be a part of our football
team and a representative of Nebraska Football," said head
coach Scott Frost. "Damian has brought accountability, leadership
and toughness to our team and helped instill those same qualities
in his teammates. His incredible drive and tenacity have allowed
him to become a contributor to our football team despite not playing
high school football. His impact on our program, combined with his
service and sacrifice for our country make him a worthy recipient
of the Armed Forces Merit Award."
Created in June 2012, the award honors an individual and/or a
group with a military background and/or involvement that has an
impact within the realm of college football.
Armed Forces Merit Awards selection committee is comprised of seven
FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed
Forces Bowl. A total of 28 individuals and three programs were nominated
for the 2021 award.
Past recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by
the FWAA include Nate Boyer of the University of Texas (2012), Brandon
McCoy of the University of North Texas (2013), Daniel Rodriguez
from Clemson University (2014), Bret Robertson of Westminster College
(Fulton, Mo., 2015), Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University
(2016), Dr. Chris Howard from Robert Morris University (2018), Army
West Point assistant coach Mike Viti (2019) and Collin O'Donnell
of Bluefield College of Virginia.
Kansas State and its football team were honored in November 2017
as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s
partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between
the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates
a portfolio of 34 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster
includes five early-season college football games, 17 college bowl
games, 11 college basketball events and a college softball event,
which accounts for 400 hours of live programming, reaches 64 million
viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite
offices in more than 10 markets across the country, ESPN Events
builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities,
as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans. For
more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter
or YouTube pages.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of
America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists,
photographers and key executives in all areas of college football.
The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while
presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team.
Armed Forces Merit Award
Download the Armed Forces Merit Award logo (.jpg)