Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Lightning strike kills former Hog
FAYETTEVILLE The University of Arkansas football family is mourning the death of one of its greats, linebacker Larry Jackson.
An officer with the Royal Bahamas Police said Jackson, an All-Southwest Conference linebacker in 1977-1978, was killed on a beach in Nassau on Wednesday. A report issued by press liaison officer Chrislyn Skippings said Jackson was at Cable Beach around 3:45 p.m. when he was reportedly struck by lightning.
“It is reported the victim, his wife and other family members were in the water at the time of the incident,” the report stated.
Dr. Nadia Bannister said Jackson was pronounced dead on arrival at Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau.
Confirmation of Jackson’s identity was complicated by an apparent error regarding the birth date listed in the police report. The report lists Jackson as being born Oct. 15, 1965. Jackson was born Oct. 5, 1956, according to Arkansas’ media relations department.
Jackson, 53, came to the University of Arkansas following a standout high school career at Hot Springs. He had been living in Hernando, Miss.
“He was just tough as a boot, the ultimate throwback guy,” said Mike Scott, a former Arkansas quarterback (1976-1978) and Jackson’s classmate who spoke with Jackson’s brother inlaw after the incident. “He’s the only guy I ever saw knock Earl Campbell on his back. He did it in Fayetteville in that 13-9 game [in 1977].”
Word about the tragedy spread throughout the Razorbacks football fraternity Thursday and Friday.
“Larry represents all you want a Razorback to be,” said Harold Horton, the Razorback Foundation executive director who was Jackson’s position coach upon his arrival in Fayetteville. “Everything he had as a player, he gave it to us.
“He loved the Razorbacks, and he was a part of some great years.”
Longtime Arkansas football trainer Dean Weber said he was always pleased when Jackson came back to campus for visits over the years.
“He was a great guy and obviously a great player,” Weber said. “He was tough, and he had a good sense of humor. An extremely caring person. Just good people.”
Jackson was a member of Arkansas’ team of the decade in the 1970s and led the Razorbacks with 123 tackles in 1977and with 102 in 1978. He had a career-high 19 tackles against Tulsa in 1976 and again against Oklahoma State in 1977.
Jackson was a team captain on the 1978 team, which was ranked as high as No. 2 early in the season and finished 9-2-1. He also was ABC’s national defensive player of the year in 1977.
Friends of the family said Friday afternoon that plans for funeral services are still pending.
Sports, Pages 23 on 06/12/2010