It took a couple years for rising redshirt junior Tyree Jackson to take over the starting quarterback role, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
In 2016, Jackson, then a redshirt freshman out of Norton Shores, Michigan, fought with Iowa State transfer Grant Rohach for precious playing time in rotation after the departure of Buffalo legend Joe Licata to graduation in 2015.
Recently-hired head coach Lance Leipold was still installing his new offense and knew eventually Jackson was going to be the center point of it. After an injury to Rohach, who largely proved to be ineffective in three starts, Leipold pulled the trigger and decided to give Jackson the full-time starting role, perhaps a little earlier than planned.
Jackson showed his relative youth, throwing nine touchdowns and nine interceptions in what proved to be a tough season for a Bulls squad trying to rebuild themselves. But the overall stats showed a lot of potential for growth, as Jackson finished with 1,772 yards passing and 472 yards rushing (good enough for second on the team) with five touchdowns.
2017 saw Jackson, who stands at six-foot-seven, 245 lbs., go from an intriguing prospect with promise to a prototypical quarterback with the ability to change games. Part of his success is directly attributable to wide receiver Anthony Johnson, a JUCO product from Iowa Western CC who became a favorite target of Jackson’s after emerging as a surprise star outside receiver for the Bulls.
Despite missing four games due to injury, Jackson still posted impressive numbers on the ground and in the air. Jackson finished with 2,096 yards passing with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions and rushed for 197 yards and four touchdowns, improving as a pocket quarterback while still showing the threat of the run.
Now that Leipold has had a chance to install his offense and what used to be a young team on offense has gelled together through several rough seasons, Jackson has a chance to make a national name for himself and bloom in full as a quarterback, as he and the rest of the Bulls squad look to become eligible for a bowl game for the first time since the 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.