When Steven Jackson declared for the NFL draft in 2003 after a record-setting three-year career at Oregon State, he made a promise to his mother: It would not stop him from earning a college degree.
Seventeen years later, Jackson finally fulfilled the promise.
The Beavers great on Tuesday revealed on social media that he had earned his college degree from Oregon State, sharing a touching video of the moment his mother learned the news.
“Is this it?” she shouted, laughing and celebrating, as she opened what appeared to be a present with Jackson’s diploma. “Oh, Jesus!”
A few seconds later, Jackson held his diploma for his mother to read as she soaked up her son’s accomplishment.
“They put your whole name it,” she said, eliciting a round of laughter from Jackson. The two hugged and she repeatedly thanked him.
Jackson is one of the most accomplished athletes in Oregon State history, rushing for 3,625 yards and scoring 39 touchdowns from 2001-03. He was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the No. 24 overall pick of the 2004 draft and went on to play nine seasons with the organization, rushing for 10,138 yards — the most in franchise history — while earning three Pro Bowl selections.
He went on to play parts of three more seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots before retiring in 2015 with 11,438 rushing yards, 3,683 receiving yards and 78 total touchdowns. He was later inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.
In December 2016, Jackson announced on his website that he was returning to Oregon State to finish his degree and that he would be switching his major from architecture to human development and family science. He said he hoped to eventually mentor “young people in and around the communities that I live in.”
“Since my last game with the Patriots, I decided to dive in and really get back into school, and to fulfill a promise that I made to my parents to (finish) my college degree,” Jackson wrote. “I left Oregon State in 2003 when I was a junior, midway through the year. I was actually on course to graduate the following winter, which would have been a little early. But the NFL had me projected as a first-round talent going into the draft, and the chance to make that dream a reality was one I couldn’t pass up.
“My parents didn’t have a chance to get college degrees, but they were really sticklers on education. There would be instances where my dad wouldn’t let me go to football practice if I didn’t have homework done, and those kinds of things stuck out in my head. When I decided that I would give the NFL a shot, I didn’t know that 12 years would pass, or that I would have a long, successful career. But I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and I promised that I would always go back. I don’t think you ever get too old to learn.”