STILLWATER — Blake Jackson still thinks about his role in Oklahoma State's loss to Baylor to end the regular season.
Specifically, he thinks about the two potential touchdown catches he dropped in a seven-point defeat, the first on a ball floated to him near the right corner of the end zone on the Cowboys' opening drive and the second on a trick play that left Jackson wide open in the middle of the field near the goal line early in the third quarter.
“I knew how much impact (that game) had on our bowl implications,” Jackson said. “It really doesn't hurt anybody worse than it hurts me, honestly. I just felt like I let my team down, and it's been stuck in my mind since that happened.
“It's a moment I don't like to relive a lot, but it's definitely made me hungry.”
Jackson continued to be brutally honest Wednesday when assessing his entire up-and-down debut season with OSU in his first media session since becoming a Cowboy.
To him, it was mostly down.
“I'm really hard on myself, so I don't think I did well at all,” Jackson said. “I think I can be a prime time player, so I'm working really hard to get to that level. I'm really tough on myself, more so than anybody else.
“So I wouldn't think it was a good year at all.”
After transferring from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College last spring, Jackson's junior campaign was, at the very least, odd.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound receiver was often a physical mismatch inside and usually picked up big chunks of yards whenever he caught the football. He led the Cowboys with 19.9 yards per catch and ranked second on the team with 598 receiving yards.
But Jackson sometimes disappeared from the Cowboy offense for long stretches of time, catching one or zero passes in six of 13 games. He was not a stellar route runner — most of his catches came straight down the middle of the field — and was sometimes stiff in his body movements.
And his biggest issue was, of course, the drops. Perhaps none more glaring than the pair of potential scores he could not corral in Waco.
Jackson shot down any proposed excuses for the lapses, especially his position switch from tight end to inside receiver upon arriving in Stillwater. He noted that at Scottsdale, he was often used in the same way as he is at OSU — lining up standing upright and running routes in the slot.
Teammate Tracy Moore, though, can sympathize with Jackson a bit. Moore has flipped from inside to outside receiver during his OSU career and stressed that changing positions does require a pretty significant adjustment.
“It's not like a receiver is a receiver,” Moore said. “They are all really different. So I understand where (Jackson is) coming from. It's a difficult process. But he's adjusted pretty well. He can play just about anything on the field.”
Still, Jackson recognized his 2012 struggles long ago. And this offseason, he's tried to do everything he can to make the proper fixes.
He's worked on improving his hands by catching footballs out of the Jugs machine, catching tennis balls off a wall and working individually with the OSU quarterbacks. He and fellow slot receiver Josh Stewart have become film room buddies, using the sessions to study the Cowboy offense and even get a jump-start on scouting Mississippi State, OSU's first opponent.
“You can ask anybody around here,” Jackson said. “I've been on a mission so far, since the season ended. And I'll continue to do that.
“That's an everyday thing. Seven days a week.”
That's all helped him become more comfortable on the field, as he said he's busted fewer plays this spring compared to last year.
And he hopes the additional work leads to a more consistent senior season.
“I know that I'm ready for this,” Jackson said, “and I know I should have been ready for that moment (last season). So I'm sure I'm not going to waste any opportunities this year.”