Matt Damon's nephew hopes to play for Huskers

2013-07-11T14:42:00Z 2013-07-11T17:55:31Z Matt Damon's nephew hopes to play for HuskersBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Oh, you know, it was just your typical summer campus tour, sort of. … OK, not really at all.

Not when one of the prospective students, a student who hopes to be a future Husker football player, brings along Uncle Matt.

Ishmail Jackson laughs when someone says he and his uncle caused quite a stir.

“Yeah, I know, I know.”

It is no secret by now that actor Matt Damon was on the Nebraska campus on Wednesday, taking a New Student Enrollment tour with a nephew planning to attend school in Lincoln this fall.

But there's something else to know about that nephew. As first reported by HuskersIllustrated.com, he plays football, and is planning to come all the way from his home state of Florida to try to walk on to the Nebraska program.

You better believe he and Uncle Matt toured the football facilities Wednesday.

“He was just as much amazed as I was,” Jackson said of Damon. “He had nothing but great things to say about it."

Jackson, who says he’s 6-foot and 180 pounds, will work out for coaches in a few weeks and try to earn a spot on the roster as a defensive back.

“Hopefully I get on the team and start putting in work and make my way to the top,” Jackson said.

He played on both sides of the ball as a defensive back and wide receiver in high school in Hollywood, Fla. Heck, he even played some at defensive end and linebacker. “Wherever they needed me to play, I went.”

The University of Miami expressed some interest, he said, but his parents encouraged him to expand his horizons and see what options there might be outside of Florida.

It was last spring when another uncle, Jervonte Jackson, first gave him the idea of checking out Lincoln. A former defensive tackle at Florida Atlantic, Jackson now plays for the indoor football team the Nebraska Danger, based in Grand Island.

You know, Nebraska has a pretty good college football program, Jervonte told him. Maybe check it out?

Ishmail started doing research. By that point, he had accepted the idea he was most likely going out of state for college. And the more he looked, the more he learned about the strong history of Husker football.

“I’m the type of person, I like to expand,” he said. “A lot of people from Florida, they haven’t been anywhere but Florida. I wanted to be able to say, ‘I’ve been here, I’ve been here. I’ve been here.’ It’s just a change, you know what I mean.”

He called Jeff Jamrog, Husker assistant athletic director for football, in the spring to tell him of his interest. While Jackson can’t communicate directly with coaches until the first week of August, he’s eagerly anticipating the chance to show what he can do.

“Hopefully, I get on the team and start putting in work and make my way to the top,” Jackson said.

As to why Uncle Matt came along on this week's tour?

Well, Jackson’s aunt, Luciana Bozán Barroso, who married Damon in 2005, has kept close tabs on her nephew’s football career.

“She’s been psyched about it until the ninth grade,” he said. “She couldn’t wait to see me go to college.”

She also thought Damon, who attended Harvard, might be the best help for her nephew on a campus tour.

By this point, Jackson has become used to the reaction and picture requests when he’s with his uncle.

“At first it was like, ‘Wow.' I’d never been around that type of lifestyle. But after a while it kind of became normal. He was family, so he was around me all the time. We go places all the time.”

At one point during Wednesday’s tour, the parents/guardians went in separate groups from the students. Ishmail began to hear some talk about the rumor that Matt Damon was on campus.

“So I called him up, ‘Hey, Uncle Matt, these guys really want a picture.’ He’s like, ‘Sure, no problem.’ He came back. It was nothing major.”

Damon has since left Lincoln. Ishmail was hanging around until Friday. Then he’ll catch a flight home only to return in a couple weeks to chase his dream.

Uncle Matt will be keeping track.

Damon made a run through the student bookstore and bought a bunch of Husker gear before he departed, even “throwing the bones” with a couple of students.

Ishmail can end any speculation about whether Uncle Matt will become a Husker fan.

"Already is."

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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