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North Hall graduate Dan Jackson keeps calm confidence as he prepares to play for Georgia Bulldogs in Monday's national championship
Dan Jackson
Georgia defensive back and North Hall High graduate Dan Jackson (47) stops Michigan running back Donovan Edwards (7) on fourth down during the fourth quarter of the Orange Bowl game in Miami Gardens, Fla. Curtis Compton Atlanta Journal Constitution

Dan Jackson has exactly the same even-keeled disposition as when he was a football walk-on with the University of Georgia. 

However, a lot has changed since he made his first big impression as an overachieving defensive back with an interception in the 2021 G-Day Spring Game. 

On Monday, the North Hall High graduate will likely see considerable playing time as the No. 3 Bulldogs (13-1) face No. 1 Alabama (13-1) for the national championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. 

“It’s truly a blessing to get to play for a national championship,” Jackson said Wednesday, just two days before the team departs for Indiana. “I’m excited and feel like we’re prepared for what’s coming.”

After making a splash in the season-opening win against Clemson, Jackson has been a staple on the field and has routinely made big stops for Georgia as it went undefeated through the regular season, before falling 41-24 to the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship game on Dec. 4. 

In the College Football Playoffs, Jackson was inserted and received more playing time, after starter Christopher Smith was called for a first-half targeting on a tackle and was disqualified for the remained of the Orange Bowl win against Michigan on Dec. 31. 

Now, the Bulldogs, who were No. 1 in the country the majority of the regular season are just one win away from their first national championship since the 1980 season, 20 years before Jackson was even born. 

Since his local fame has blossomed, including billboards for Peach State Bank through an NIL endorsement deal, Jackson hasn’t changed. 

He’s still the same self-assured, mild-mannered player who flourished during his high school career with the Trojans. 

Despite his walk-on status, Jackson has played in all 14 games this season, recording 30 total tackles for Georgia. 

He had a hand in four stops in the win against Michigan. 

“I’m out there playing for the people in Gainesville and all my North Hall Trojans family,” Jackson said. 

Confident in his own ability to play in college at the highest level, Jackson passed on offers from smaller programs. 

He was willing to bet on himself, even if it meant starting at the very bottom of the depth chart. 

And after two years toiling on the practice field, scout team and enduring every arduous workout, Jackson has earned every bit of playing time he’s received in 2021. 

Despite not seeing an immediate payoff in his time investment, Jackson said he never wavered in his own playing ability. 

He knew there would only be one chance in life to play college football at his dream school. 

Jackson’s definitely made it happen. 

This isn’t the North Hall products first experience in a national championship environment with Georgia. 

However, in 2017, he had to have a ticket like every other fan in attendance at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. 

Then a junior in high school, Jackson rode down with his friends and their family for the game. 

His seat for the action was in the upper level part of the end zone, in a sea of other Georgia fans who left disappointed after a 26-23 loss to Alabama. 

Now a full-fledged Bulldogs player, Jackson will be able to bring his family along for what he hopes is the school’s first national championship in 41 years. 

Jackson’s parents, two brothers and a few extended members will all be on hand for the game in Indianapolis, cheering on No. 47. 

Georgia’s defensive back said there won’t be much time to mingle before the game. 

Plus, players have team meetings, practice and an early curfew before the game. 

But, hopefully, they are all enjoy a monumental celebration once the game is complete and the confetti falls from the ceiling.