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Jack Buchanan’s job on Lincoln High’s football team is slamming down ball carriers, just what you’d expect from the son of a former Husker and the grandson of NFL Hall of Famer Buck Buchanan.

But being a potential all-state middle linebacker is just a small part of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior’s high school experience. His other passion is writing poetry and then reciting his work at slam poetry competitions in the spring.

The best way to describe slam poetry is reading with a theatrical twist. Judges evaluate each person’s piece not only by the written words, but also by how well the reader connects with the audience.

“My English teacher my freshman year thought it was something I should try, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” said Jack Buchanan, whose soft-spoken yet engaging personality destroys the stereotype of a middle linebacker.

“I do most of my writing in the summer or in the winter after football is over; that’s when I have the most inspiration,” he added. “I used to run track in the spring, but with slam poetry, I don’t have time to do both.”

Jack says he never writes about football, something he says doesn’t inspire him when he sits down to compose a poem. He’s written pieces as tributes to his mother, Nikki, who died almost 2½ years ago from pancreatic cancer. He also chronicles his experiences as a black student and some of the difficulties his friends have faced.

Buchanan challenges himself academically at Lincoln High by participating in the prestigious International Baccalaureate program there. He’s branched out into theater as well, as he’s preparing to audition for a part in the school’s one-act play.

“I’m a different person on the football field,” he said with a smile. “I get a lot more aggressive when I’m out there.”

Jack never met his grandfather, the legendary Kansas City defensive tackle who played from 1963-75. Buck Buchanan died in 1992, a number of years before Jack was born.

Jack knows the football history of his family, but he said the sport was never forced on him by his father, Eric, who played at Nebraska in the early 1980s.

“I never started playing until seventh grade,” said Jack, whose younger brother, Davis, is a sophomore quarterback for the Links. “He thought I’d burn out on it (football) if I started too young.”

His first position was fullback before moving to the defensive side of the ball to stay. “I’ve always played the tough-guy positions,” he said.

While Lincoln High’s high-powered offense has dominated the headlines this fall, the sixth-ranked Links’ steady progress defensively also has contributed to the 7-0 start. Buchanan leads the team in tackles with 59, including six behind the line of scrimmage. Lincoln High comes into Friday’s 4:30 p.m. district game against Lincoln Southwest (5-2) with back-to-back shutouts over Omaha Central and Fremont.

“Jack is just playing phenomenally right now,” Lincoln High coach Mark Macke said. “He’s playing fast, he’s playing physical and he always seems to be at the right place at the right time. He’s competing at a very high level.”

Macke said Buchanan sets a standard that he expects his teammates to match.

“His motor never stops and it doesn’t matter if it’s a game or practice,” Macke said. “His energy level never slips and it’s nonstop. He gets on guys who don’t play with that same kind of energy.”

Based on his size, strength and speed, Macke thinks Buchanan should be getting more recruiting attention from the big schools than he is right now. He was invited to Northwest Missouri State for a visit this weekend, but had to cancel it because Lincoln High had to return to Fremont on Saturday to finish off the Tigers' 28-0 win in a game that was suspended at halftime Friday because of weather.

He’s been accepted to Nebraska academically, but the Husker coaches have not extended a preferred walk-on spot to him.

“If there’s the right opportunity, I’d love to do it,” Buchanan said about the prospect of playing college football. He wants to pursue something in the writing or journalism field. “I’ll choose my school based on academics first, then see how football fits.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or On Twitter @ronpowell_ljs.


Sports reporter

Ron Powell is a longtime prep writer for the Journal Star. He covers high school football, boys basketball and track as well as state college football and Husker and professional tennis.

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