The practice was in the books. It’d been over for about 20 minutes, but two potentially important pieces of the Husker future remained, throwing each other passes, making each other leap or tightrope the sideline to catch the football.

One of them was redshirt wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp. The other was freshman defensive back Charles Jackson.

Two players who soon could be key figures beneath the crowd's roar were now lost to a quiet game of catch on an empty field.

It is hardly unusual to see Jackson as one of the last remaining Huskers after practice.

He's waited patiently for this chance. He’s not going to let up now that it's here.

“I want to do all I can do, bring what I can to the team,” Jackson said. “Keep working hard every day and see what it comes out to be in the end.”

There’s a reason Husker secondary coach Terry Joseph described Jackson as the “Energizer Bunny” early in fall camp.

“The guy can run all day,” Joseph said then. “He’s very willing to learn.”

During the first five practices of fall camp, Joseph estimated that Jackson said “Yes, sir” to him “probably 5,000 times.”

Jackson's early favorable impression on coaches did not fade. He didn’t play many defensive snaps this fall but had a large role on special teams, recording 10 tackles.

That was nice. But there seems to be much more out there for the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Jackson.

The question: Where do coaches put him?

Safety, perhaps.

Along with his work at nickel and cornerback, Jackson has been getting looks at safety, a position where Nebraska will have to replace two seniors next year.

“The thing Charles does best is he runs and hits,” said defensive coordinator John Papuchis. “He has some cover skills to him, obviously. The way we play our safeties, if you run, hit and cover, those are the three things we’re looking for.”

He could be a very good safety, Papuchis thinks. But Jackson’s cover skills are strong enough that Papuchis could see the defensive back about anywhere in the secondary.

Jackson is keeping an open mind.

"It just depends where they need me at the moment, where they need depth at. I’m willing to play whatever," he said.

A preference?

"I feel like safety is more physical. I feel like I’m a fit for safety. They’re all fun."

The native of Spring, Texas, already showed he has perseverance.

A member of the 2011 recruiting class, he had to sit out that year while overcoming some academic hurdles.

Some recruits in that situation are never heard from again. But when the summer of 2012 arrived, Jackson had become one of those satisfying tales.

He had made it to Lincoln.

"I just wanted it. Ever since the time I was ineligible, I wanted it. I wanted it more than anybody else wanted it for me," Jackson said.

He buries his head in a playbook often these days.

It's the only way for one of those young players the Huskers need to rise up over the next nine months.

"The playbook is like another class, I have to say," Jackson said. "You just have to stay in your books. You've just got to study every night."

It was a grind to get here, but that grind never really ends. Not when you want more.

That's why Jackson isn't quick to leave the field when the final practice horn sounds.

"Just can’t let down," he said. "Got to keep moving forward."

Reach Brian Christopherson at or 402-473-7439. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.