Dan Jackson is living out one of the most improbable dreams of an athlete to come out of Hall County.
And every shred of his success is a testament to hard work and strong faith.
The latest chapter in the North Hall High graduate's rise to Georgia football stardom is billboards with his face on it sprinkled around Hall County.
Recently, the Bulldogs’ walk-on, who has 33 tackles and two stops for a loss, inked an NIL deal (Name, Image and Likeness) contract with Peach State Bank in Gainesville.
The first four of the billboards were up just in time for Thanksgiving — three in Gainesville, one in Flowery Branch.
The first set of rotating billboards will run through Dec. 22, Peach State Bank CEO Ron Quinn said, while another four will go up on Dec. 22.
“Obviously, I didn’t expect any of this at the start of the season,” said Jackson, who had a tackle for a loss in the first quarter in the 45-0 win against Georgia Tech on Nov. 27. “All the credit for my success goes to the good Lord.”
Next up, top-ranked Georgia faces No. 5 Alabama (11-1) for the SEC Championship at 4 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta.
A win will lock up Georgia’s second-ever appearance in the College Football Playoffs.
After an unblemished regular season, the Bulldogs could still potentially get into the four-team postseason field with a loss to the Crimson Tide.
However, Jackson would rather not leave anything to chance.
Top-ranked Georgia (12-0) is looking for its first national championship since the 1980 season.
“Coach (Kirby) Smart always says, ‘A great book has no bad chapters in it,’” Jackson said.
Jackson’s rapid rise up the depth chart for the Bulldogs was first on display, for fans, when he saw significant playing time in the season-opening win against Clemson.
Since then, the preferred walk-on from North Hall has been a staple on the field for the Bulldogs’ top-ranked defense, which has three shutouts in 2021 and has put together four games this season without allowing a touchdown.
Jackson, a third-year sophomore, said he started negotiations with Peach State Bank and Quinn in October.
With NIL endorsements, college athletes are allowed to profit financially from their success on the playing field.
So, in the case of Jackson, he’s able to earn walking-around money for playing college football before he’s even on athletic scholarship for the Bulldogs.
All Jackson said he was required to do was some photos to go on the billboards that will be good for the life of the contract.
“I’m so thankful for this opportunity,” Jackson said. “I want the young kids in Hall County to get encouragement from what I’ve done.”
However, the NIL contract with Peach State Bank is just one of the projects Jackson has in the works.
A series of shirts with Jackson’s head, adorned with a cowboy hat, saying "Dirty Dan" are being produced by John Geyer.
After covering costs for making the shirts, Jackson stated he wants to give proceeds back to a Hall County-based charity.
After the first batch of 100 shirts were sold out through word of mouth and social media, Jackson said another order for the shirts will be coming soon.
The final design for the back of the shirts was designed by Jackson’s life-long friend, Cade Chase, and Chase’s fiancée Kaylie Truelove.
Jackson, who was lightly recruited out of high school, made his first big play when he intercepted a pass during the G-Day spring game last spring.
Since then, Jackson has continued to be an asset for the nation’s top-ranked defense.