Former Georgia Tech linebacker Kyle Jackson’s days on the playing fields have passed, but he is engaged in and succeeding in a national collegiate competition of a different stripe.
Jackson, a second-year law student at Georgia State, will compete in a national mock trial competition this week after he and teammate Kevin Coleman won the 28-team Southeast region competition in February.
The National Trial Competition, to be held in Austin, Texas, is considered to be one of the oldest and most prestigious mock trial competitions in the country.
Jackson has found that mock trials have given him the same charge he felt playing at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
“I really came to law school because I wanted to try cases,” Jackson said. “Mainly, the preparation going into it, the feeling you get when you’re in the courtroom is like waiting on the first snap. It’s so much like football that I think really I needed something to fill that void, something to give me butterflies again.”
Jackson was part of the heralded 2007 recruiting class that included Derrick Morgan, Jonathan Dwyer and Morgan Burnett. Jackson, in fact, earned the nickname “The Ambassador” for his role in pulling the class together. Jackson started 10 games as a freshman in 2008 but missed the 2009 season after tearing the Lisfranc ligament in his foot. He started two games in 2010 but decided to give up football to prepare for law school.
Jackson graduated in Dec. 2010 with a management degree and then worked for a year as a legal assistant while studying for the LSAT. He enrolled at Georgia State in 2012. He interned last summer at Holland & Knight in Atlanta and will intern this summer at Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial. Among the partners at that firm is another former Tech linebacker, Steve Mooney, who played on the 1980 team that tied No. 1 Notre Dame.
There is little doubt that Jackson has taken this endeavor seriously. On top of their course studies, he and Coleman, who played football at Morehouse, prepared for the regional competition with practices that lasted up to eight hours.
In the competition, entrants were given information for a lawsuit and then had to argue the case as both plaintiff and defendant against competing schools. They first had to advance out of pool competition and then into the elimination rounds. He took particular pleasure in beating a team from Georgia’s law school.
“There were multiple times I looked at Kevin and I was like, Kevin, if we don’t advance, I think I’ll try to flip a table,” Jackson said. “It’s one of those things. It’s so competition-driven, it pulls so much of the same emotion, it’s hilarious.”
Jackson and Coleman will be one of 28 teams at the national competition, which begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday.
“I expect something like a BCS crystal ball, or at least something large in height,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s made of plastic.”