[Richt: Reinforcements on the way for Miami offense]
[Rousseau, Hightower surprise standouts of the spring]
[Video: reacting to the spring game | Stats report]
[Recap: O-line takes a pounding during spring game]
[Basketball: Former top-50 recruit transfers to Miami]
CORAL GABLES — More than a few newborns in South Florida have worn turnover chain onesies since the merchandise hit the streets last fall, amid the Hurricanes’ Cuban link craze.
Only a few might be able to put their tiny hands on the actual chain.
That short list now includes Michael Antwan Jackson Jr., born last Friday, April 13. He is the first son of top cornerback Michael Jackson and his girlfriend, Reanna Payne, of Homestead.
New dad Jackson, who as a junior tied safety Jaquan Johnson atop UM’s interceptions list (four), reported Tuesday that both mom and baby are in good health.
“It was life-changing,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for women and pain. That changed my life forever. It’s no more, ‘You soft like a girl.’ It’s no more of that.”
He said coaches, especially cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph, are helping him balance school, spring ball, and fatherhood. For example, Rumph rebuffed his request to review his grades from the spring game. Film study can wait a few weeks.
“He’s like, ‘Don’t worry about that, be a dad,'” Jackson said. “He’s teaching me … Right now, I’m not a football player no more. I just got done with practice. You’re always a dad. You don’t take a break from it.”
Being a father, Jackson said, “means a lot to me. Where I’m from, Birmingham, Alabama, a lot of fathers are not in their child’s lives. I’m going to be there every step of the way.”
He also shared a personal moment from before last Saturday’s scrimmage, in which he surprised coaches and teammates by showing up to the pregame meal. Jackson said he wasn’t expected to participate, but his family pushed him to leave the hospital to get to Hard Rock Stadium. At the pregame meal, coaches and teammates showered him with applause.
“I’m not an emotional guy, but that felt the best,” he said.
Senior safety Sheldrick Redwine was happy for his friend.
“He’s going to be a good dad. He’s a responsible guy. He takes care of business,” Redwine said. “He’s been the same since he’s been here. He’s quiet, does what he’s got to do, stays out of trouble.”
He would know. When the two were freshmen roommates in the UM dorms, Redwine, from nearby Killian High, advised Jackson to hit the town with him and his girlfriend, Brianna Payne, Reanna’s sister.
“When I got down here, I didn’t know where to go,” Jackson said. “So he was like, ‘Just come out with me.’ I met her and he was like, ‘You’re not talking to anyone else. I can tell you like her.'”
As for on-field matters: coaches have praised Jackson as one of Miami’s best and most consistent defensive players. He is a no-doubt starter in the secondary. His spring improvement, he said, has come from “learning the small details of the playbook, and practicing every single day at a high level,” he said. “In the fall, some days I’d come and I wouldn’t bring it every single day. This spring I told myself I would.”