TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Dozens of fans braved the rain and cold on Tuesday morning to welcome the Crimson Tide players back to Tuscaloosa. But even though the Tide took center stage, a young man in elementary school stole some of the limelight.
The phrase “age is just a number” usually refers to those defying odds later in life. In this case, it refers to the detail in which some of the youngest Tide faithful know their sport, 10-year-old Jackson Way in particular. “Roll Tide Roll! Who’s number one again? They talked about us. They said they didn’t belong, but we’re here,” he told WHNT.
“The emotions were crazy last night, and the kick that they missed was crazy,” he recalled. “Then Tua took that sack in overtime and I thought it was over. Then that touchdown was amazing.”
Jackson delivered on-point post-game insights for about 6 minutes. “Great effort by Alabama. I think they put Tua in because Jalen kept dropping back to pass, and he was just looking at Calvin Ridley. They had him covered as best as they could. He kept looking, he had all day to throw, then the pressure kept coming. Sometimes he could make a play out of it, but usually he struggled back to get to the line, only got about 2 yards.”
“Games in the championship always come down to the last second. We won in the last second this time, and we lost in the last second last year.” Jackson broke down every component of the game from fourth quarter psychology to the mindset of Alabama’s ill-fated kicker, Andy Pappanastos. “I bet he’s just kicking them like crazy in practice but then everything gets to his head.”
Jackson said the reason he wanted to be at the homecoming was to remind the team of what’s important, never stop grinding. “They will just be ready to play again. You haven’t done enough until your career is over with the Tide.”
Okay, and maybe he also wanted his football signed. Mission accomplished.