AUSTIN, Texas - The inevitable comparisons will always be there for Jackson Jeffcoat, with a surname like that.
Jeffcoat still remembers traversing the Cowboys' locker room as a child while following around his father, Jim, who notched 94.5 of his 102.5 career sacks in Dallas, good for seventh all-time in Cowboys history.
"I know my dad used to send me over to Michael Irvin and have me talk smack or send me over to someone else and have me talk some smack," Jeffcoat recalled. "It was funny...I remember it was fun for me going around there and one day hoping to be in the same situation as him."
That hope is now a reality. The next time Jackson steps in that Cowboys locker room, it could be as a member of the team his father made his name with for 12 years.
"It's crazy," Jeffcoat said. "I remember when I was little, like five years old, and my dad picked me up and would take me on the field and give me a kiss with me and my older brother and take me into the locker room. It feels like it was just yesterday. It's crazy that I'm going to be in the NFL, and I've been wanting to be in the NFL since I was five years old."
Jeffcoat would love for that to happen in his hometown of Dallas. He's always been a Cowboys fan and said it would nice to return back home, but he's not going to be picky.
He'll welcome any team that drafts him with open arms. Still, the thought of another Jeffcoat wreaking havoc in Dallas is a neat possibility that's difficult to ignore, including for Jackson, who's put himself in position to make the same kind of mark his father did.
The Plano West grad, a defensive end just like his dad, wrapped up his final season at the University of Texas as a consensus All-American and Ted Hendricks Award winner, bouncing back from a pectoral injury that sidelined him for the final seven games of the 2012 season.
Jeffcoat can recite where he ranks in Texas history with his 60 tackles for loss - tied for second all-time - and his 27.5 sacks - ranking seventh in team history. But he has to know that. After all, he's in a competition with the person who pushes him most.
"That was a big goal for me to get up in the history books, because my dad would always tell me, 'Hey, my name's up on the stadium at Arizona State,'" Jeffcoat said with a smile, "'where's your name?' I was always competing with him."
Most people remember the behemoth, 6-5, 280-pound Jim Jeffcoat. But he wasn't always that way. In fact, he was more like his 250-pound son than many people remember.
"Later on in his career, he got bigger," Jackson recalled. "But when he came into the league, he actually weighed less than I do now. We're pretty similar in that aspect. Looking back at the pictures, we were pretty similar in build as well."
Jim Jeffcoat remembers it a tad differently, but offered a similar sentiment about their size entering the league.
"Obviously, I wasn't as explosive as he was," Jeffcoat's father said. "I only weighed two pounds more than he did coming out. That's the funny thing. He's a lot more explosive, a lot more talented than I ever could hope to be."
Jim Jeffcoat, now a defensive line coach at Colorado, said it can be difficult being a parent of a player on one team when he's got to worry about another. He'd love to be at every game. He obviously couldn't, so he talked to Jackson after every contest.
"We always talk," Jim Jeffcoat said. "I always said, 'First of all, I'm your biggest fan. But I'm also going to let you hear things you may not want to hear. I'm going to tell you the truth.'" [embedded_ad]
The truth is, despite not wanting to "pump his ego," Jeffcoat's father believes strongly in his son's ability - particularly his mental capacity and ability to process new concepts. The way he talks about his son, Jim Jeffcoat's sense that Jackson will learn how to be successful sounds more like an inevitability than a belief.
"He's extremely intelligent," Jim Jeffcoat said. "He's such a quick learner. You teach him something and he can pick it up and do it, and he can do it in an exceptional way. That's his greatest asset."
Jackson said he always wanted to be like his father growing up, and he still does. He knows the comparisons will always be there as long as he plays, and they provide a challenge he understands and appreciates.
"This dude has 102.5 sacks in the NFL, he's in the 100 sacks club," Jackson said. "That's high expectations for me if I'm going to get to him, but it's always good to hear people talking good about your dad. I'm hearing a lot of good stories about how he was not only a good football player but a great man as well."
The mutual respect between the Jeffcoats is obvious and apparent. Jim admired the way Jackson's always been able to handle the expectations placed upon him, and he looks forward to watching what his son will do at the next level - whether it's with the Cowboys or not.
"If he ends up with them, so be it," Jeffcoat's father said. "If he doesn't, so be it. Wherever he is, I'm going to be a fan of that team. I'm going to wear his jersey. That's my son. That's a part of me."