Dexter Jackson graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2008 as a standout college wide receiver. Now, the 27-year-old has temporarily retired his football cleats to obtain his college degree and pursue a career in criminal justice.
Jackson now works full time in the DeKalb County District Attorney Office’s Records Division.
“Coming to work day in and day out, I see myself growing professionally in a career that I love,” Jackson said. “I know my future is bright regardless.”
“Dexter is a tremendous asset to our office. Every day he comes in extremely eager to learn and digest all aspects of the office,” DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said. “Life has a way of presenting challenges that often deviate from our personal plans. I applaud Dexter for obtaining his college degree and accomplishing another incredible milestone in his life.”
Jackson, a graduate and wide receiver for Dunwoody High School, attended Appalachian State University on a full athletic scholarship in 2004. While there, his finesse on the gridiron helped in a historical upset when the Appalachian Mountaineers defeated the highly-favored Michigan Wolverines.
“It really put Appalachian State on the map. Scouts, agents and professional teams really took notice and the phones started to ring,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s speed helped propel his NFL dreams into reality as he recorded the fastest 40-yard-dash time (4.27) of wide receivers in the 2008 NFL Combine.
Just one semester shy of graduating, Jackson decided to put his education on hold to pursue his dream of playing pro football. In 2008, he was drafted in the second round (58th pick) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It was a surreal feeling. Knowing that I was going to play for Tampa Bay alongside future Hall of Famers was really a dream come true,” Jackson said.
However, a torn ACL in 2013 sidelined Jackson after stints with Tampa Bay, the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets.
“I had to make a choice. I could get down about my current situation or I could accomplish another goal. After speaking with my mom and an academic counselor at Appalachian State, I decided to go back and obtain my degree in criminal justice,” Jackson said.
Thanks to a NCAA Degree Completion Award, Jackson was able to complete his degree free of charge. The award was designed in 1989 to provide financial assistance to student athletes who were no longer eligible for standard financial aid.
While a potential future on the gridiron is not entirely out of the question, Jackson says he has the tools necessary to be successful in any field.