Jackson came to Purdue after spending the previous five seasons at Wake Forest (2012-16) in a variety of positions. He served as cornerbacks coach from 2014 to 2016, defensive backs coach in 2013 and as outside linebackers coach in 2012. He also oversaw the field goal/PAT block units from 2014 to 2016. Wake Forest blocked a total of seven kicks over three seasons.
The 2016 Demon Deacons defeated Temple 34-26 to win the Military Bowl, finishing the season tied for ninth nationally in turnovers gained (27), 18th in third-down defense (34.1 percent), tied for 22nd in red zone defense (77.8 percent) and 23rd in scoring defense (22.2). Redshirt freshman Amari Henderson, a first team All-Freshman Atlantic Coast Conference selection by Athlon Sports, tied for seventh in the conference with 10 passes defended.
Junior cornerback Brad Watson was named honorable mention All-ACC in 2015 after finishing the season ranked eighth nationally and first in the conference with 18 passes defended.
Jackson's 2014 corners helped the Demon Deacons rank 12th nationally in fewest passing yards per game (186.6) and surrender merely 12 touchdown passes, which tied for sixth. Seniors Kevin Johnson and Merrill Noel were named second and third team All-ACC , respectively, and finished their careers third and fifth in ACC history in passes defended. Johnson was selected with the 16th overall pick by the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2015 National Football League Draft.
In 2013, Jackson's first season working with the secondary, Wake Forest had its passing defense improve 49 spots from 100th to 51st (267 to 223) and its scoring defense improve 53 spots from 91st to 38th (31.8 to 24.1), while finishing 32nd in the nation in total defense (366.2). Johnson's junior season ended with him ranked 22nd nationally and third in the ACC with 15 passes defended. Johnson and freshman safety Ryan Janvion were named honorable mention All-ACC, with Janvion receiving second team Freshman All-America recognition from College Football News after leading the Demon Deacons with 95 tackles.
With Jackson as outside linebackers coach in 2012, Wake Forest had its sack total improve from 11 (115th nationally) in 2011 to 25 (55th) and its tackles for loss per game average go from 5.2 the previous season (82nd) to 6.3 (41st). Justin Jackson led the Demon Deacons in tackles (80), tied for the team lead with 4.0 sacks and was second with 8.5 tackles for loss. Joey Ehrmann topped the team with 9.5 tackles for loss, tied for third with 3.5 sacks and eighth in total tackles (49).
Prior to Wake Forest, Jackson spent one season apiece as the defensive line coach at Rice (2011) and Akron (2010). The Owls' defense improved in sacks, turnovers gained and red zone defense in his lone seasons on staff. Defensive end Scott Solomon, Rice's career sacks leader, finished the 2011 season ranked 21st in the nation with 8.5 sacks. The Zips had their run defense and sack total improve in 2010, with defensive end Shawn Lemon, who finished first in the Mid-American Conference and fourth nationally with four fumbles recovered, fourth in the MAC in fumbles caused (3) and seventh in the MAC in sacks (7), earning second team all-conference honors.
From 2007 to 2009, Jackson coached the defensive line at Syracuse, including serving as co-defensive coordinator in 2008. In 2009, the Orangemen tied for sixth in the nation with 35 sacks, ranked 13th in rushing defense (101.8) and tied for 16th with 85 tackles for loss. Defensive tackle Arthur Jones, a fifth-round selection by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2010 NFL Draft, thrived under the direction of Jackson. Jones earned first team All-Big East recognition in 2009 and 2008 and second team honors in 2007. He finished his career third in Syracuse history with 38.5 tackles for loss and was named a third team All-American by College Football News in 2009. As a sophomore, Jones recorded 17.5 tackles for loss, which ranked ninth nationally and third in a season at Syracuse. Chandler Jones, a 2012 first-round selection by the New England Patriots, earned first team All-Big East freshman honors from The Sporting News and Rivals.com.
Jackson served as defensive line coach at Michigan State in 2006. The Spartans limited the opposition to eight rushing touchdowns that season, and defensive tackle Cliff Ryan was named honorable mention All-Big Ten.
In 2005, Jackson helped Northern Illinois win a share of the MAC West title and a spot in the conference championship game. Defensive tackle Quince Holman was named first team All-MAC.
Prior to NIU, Jackson spent two seasons at Eastern Illinois (2003-04) as defensive line coach. He helped lead tackle Marcus Lorick to second team All-America recognition from the Associated Press and first team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors in 2004. Defensive end Kory Lothe, who was named second team All-OVC in 2004, led the conference in sacks that season. Lorick and Lothe were named second team all-conference in 2003.
While coaching defensive ends at the United States Military Academy in 2001 and 2002, Brandon Perdue earned first team Academic All-America recognition in 2001, and Clarence Holmes broke the then-school-record with 7.0 sacks the same season.
Jackson got his start in collegiate coaching at State University of West Georgia in 1999, coaching the tight ends for two seasons. He additionally served NFL fellowships with the Miami Dolphins (2001) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002).
A four-year letterwinner at Duke as a defensive back, Jackson started 40 consecutive games and finished his career ranked eighth in school history in tackles. He twice was named the team's most outstanding defensive back and was a member of the Blue Devils' 1989 ACC co-championship and All-American Bowl team.
A native of Cincinnati, Jackson (born Jan. 16, 1970) graduated from Duke in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in history. He and his wife Renae, have twin children, Alana Mae and Dakota John. Renae, also a Duke graduate, was a standout long jumper for the Blue Devils, leaving as the school's all-time leader in the event in both outdoor (now second) and indoor (now third) competition.