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For 'Unicorn' Justin Jackson, Knowledge is King

Justin Jackson has an insatiable appetite for learning.

The Chargers' rookie running back was a three-sport high school athlete with a nearly 5.0 grade point average.

“I always like to challenge myself,” he said.

At Northwestern, Jackson, the school’s all-time rushing and touchdowns leader, was Academic All-Big Ten. He sat in special teams meetings even though -- as the Wildcats’ bell-cow running back -- he didn’t play on the unit. Jackson had the foresight to realize that attending those meetings could only increase his chances of success in the NFL.

In his first month as a pro, the seventh-round pick has been the last one off the field during OTAs, opting to soak up knowledge and tips from Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon. Jackson’s desire to learn from others is matched by a work ethic that’s led to many personal and team-oriented achievements.

“It’s all about work,” he said. “That’s how you get to this point. And when you get to this point all it is, is you turn that up more. So, it’s just ‘work harder.’”

Jackson’s 5,440 career rushing yards at Northwestern ranks third all-time in Big Ten history. Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald lauded Jackson for his durability and toughness on the field, and his selflessness off of it.

“He’s a unicorn, to be quite honest with you,” Fitzgerald said.

Listen to the entire interview with Jackson below on this week’s episode of Chargers Weekly. Among the topics: adjusting to the NFL, learning from Melvin Gordon, parallels between the Chargers and Northwestern, a valuable lesson learned from Fitzgerald, and an NBA Finals prediction.

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