Another product of the Williamson County area is making his mark in the world of college football, in a particularly strange season to boot.
Jackson Sirmon, who played linebacker at Brentwood Academy, is currently playing for the Washington Huskies in his redshirt sophomore season.
The PAC-12 was one of the last conferences to open up the season on Nov. 7 in a conference-only schedule. The team is currently 2-0.
“I’m super excited,” said Sirmon. “They originally cancelled the season, which was really tough to hear, but we’re playing so that’s all that matters and all we really care about. It’s good to be out there.”
COVID-19 wasn’t the only thing that would be changing for Jackson and the Huskies however, as there was a coaching change for Washington Huskies football as well.
Long-time head coach for the Huskies Chris Peterson stepped down for personal reasons at the end of the 2019 season as one of the most revered coaches in the program’s history with a 147-38 winning record during his time there.
Defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake was then named head coach of the team shortly after the Huskies win over Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
“The transition has been really smooth,” said Sirmon. “Coach Lake was obviously defensive coordinator and coached with Peterson a long time. I don’t think much, as far as the culture goes, has changed. Coach Lake has brought in some small differences, but I think for the most part everything has been the same, it’s been a really smooth transition. It’s been good.”
Although Lake is a fairly new to the head coaching game, he was a very successful member of the coaching staff. In 2019, he held opponents to 19.4 points per game. In 2018, Washington led the Pac-12 in scoring defense and yards allowed per game under Lake as well.
Sirmon is currently at one of the starting middle linebacker positions in the system of Coach Lake. In their game against Oregon State, the Huskies won 27-21 and Sirmon finished the game with seven total tackles.
His cousin, Jacob Sirmon, is a quarterback with the Huskies. His father, Peter Sirmon, played college football at Oregon before joining the NFL. He was an assistant coach at Washington in 2012 and 2013. His uncle teaches in Washington's business school. Another cousin, Claire, is on the rowing team, further deepening the family ties at Washington.
In his high school days, Jackso nSirmon played for Cody White as a Brentwood Academy Eagle. His senior year, the Eagles finished the season with an undefeated record and he was an all-state linebacker. Coach White still checks in on players he has coached on a weekly basis as well.
After a great high school career he now had to transition to the speed of college football. The atmosphere of college football alone is enough to give anyone culture shock after going from high school to college alone, particularly playing at such a level as the PAC-12. The level of competition in college football changes rapidly as well.
“The hardest thing originally was getting used to the fact that everyone is really good athlete,” said Sirmon. “That was probably the toughest thing originally.
"It’s a lot faster game, the calls are a lot more complicated, you have a lot more assignments. So just getting the calls and the speed of the game, and speed and size. Everyone’s bigger and stronger and so you’ve gotta get used to that for sure.”
As for the future of his playing days, Jackson says he is focused on one day at a time and trying to constantly improve. Washington’s next game will be Dec. 5 against Stanford.