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Giles Jackson Ready for Fresh Start That Results in Long-Distance Finish

The new coaching staff continues to seek ways to break him loose.
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Giles Jackson came to a stop near the 20-yard line in Husky Stadium to speak with reporters. That won't happen again. If he's anywhere near the end zone from here on out, expect the University of Washington speedster to keep going until the siren sounds and the fans jump to their feet.

Throughout fall camp, Kalen DeBoer and his coaches continuously have singled out Jackson's playmaking ability, which involves making the extra-difficult catch over the shoulder or accepting a deep handoff or toss and coming around the corner on a fly sweep or a reverse.

Yet it's been 16 college football games in two conferences since this 5-foot-9, 185-pound dynamo has scored a touchdown, which seems like a tremendous waste of a resource.

Jackson was shut out in his final four outings at Michigan in 2020 and, once he transferred to the UW, held scoreless for a dozen games last season.

Jim Harbaugh and Jimmy Lake's coaching staffs basically said to Jackson to prove it that he deserved the ball on a more frequent basis and then they stopped using him in ways other than kick-returning.

DeBoer's staff has taken a decidedly different tact — it's what can we do for you and how many ways can we get you into those wide-open spaces?

"I feel like it was basically me just changing my mindset, too," Jackson said of his higher regard. "I felt I still had a good mindset, but with this new coaching staff I feel it's like a fresh start. Everything's starting over. It starts all the way from the bottom and let's see where it goes." 

It's neglectful to squander a guy with 4.3-second speed over 40 yards, especially one with proven results: Jackson scampered 97 yards with a kickoff return to score against Maryland in 2019 and 95 with another runback to open the second half against Rutgers in 2020.

Speed kills. You don't kill speed. You give it room to run.

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Washington's longest scoring play of any kind last season was Ja'Lynn Polk's 55-yard touchdown catch at Colorado, and the Huskies' longest kick return was Jackson's 43-yard kickoff runback against Oregon.

Jackson has a rare talent shared only by three others in the Pac-12, which is the ability to go the distance with a kickoff return.

"You've got to trust the scheme, one; you've got to believe in it and you've got to keep practicing lethally," he said. "If it's Thursday, I usually know how the kick returns are going to go by Saturday, just based on how we've been practicing."

While Jackson's last kickoff-return touchdown came against Rutgers, the Huskies haven't produced a kickoff return for score since 2016 when John Ross dashed 92 yards ... against Rutgers.

"It's been a while," Jackson said. "We definitely need one this year — a couple of them."

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