The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Stone and Jackson: WSU defensive duo leading from “a place of love”

From Stone-cold plays to a big-time presence: RSJ, BJ lead Cougs
Ron Stone Jr. pounces on Wisconsin QB Tanner Mordecai to force a strip-sack fumble, Sept. 9.

The referee’s whistle pierced the crisp Palouse air as upbeat music bumped in the background, coaches shouted instructions and players celebrated big plays.

“Turn the music up,” Ron “RJ” Stone Jr. shouted on a bright, sunny Saturday during WSU football’s final closed scrimmage of the spring practice season.

The Cougar football team stood on the two opposite sidelines, with the defense wearing white and the offense wearing crimson to simulate a game.

Among the dozens of players in white jerseys, two of them could be heard throughout the scrimmage. Stone Jr. and Brennan Jackson, the defensive end duo are the longest-tenured active Cougs on the 2023 roster.

On Saturday against then No. 19 Wisconsin, the dynamic defensive duo of Stone and Jackson stole the show. Stone sacked Wisconsin’s QB twice and forced two fumbles, one of which Jackson recovered to stroll several yards into the end zone for a touchdown.

Brennan Jackson falls into the end zone after scoring a scoop and score TD, Sept. 9.

The Pac-12 Conference recognized Stone as the Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player and Defensive Lineman of the Week, Monday. 

“I don’t know a bigger impact in a certain game from two guys than what they went out there and displayed Saturday night,” head coach Jake Dickert said.

Stone and Jackson have started games opposite each other on the defensive line for the fourth straight year. They have earned multiple All-Pac-12 honors and Stone has found himself on multiple award watchlists.

In 2022, Stone tied for second in the Pac-12 with 11 quarterback hits while Jackson tied for fifth in the Pac-12 with 12 tackles-for-loss and six sacks.

During the April scrimmage, redshirt sophomore linebacker Joseph Roback picked off a pass and ran down the field to the endzone. He was not running alone though, as Jackson and several other players sprinted down the field with him to celebrate.

“You go to battle with these guys, your brothers, so it’s really easy to be excited for them when they make plays or when things aren’t going good,” Jackson said. 

Stone treats his presence on the sideline and overall leadership as a responsibility.

“I’ve kinda always been like this and having a little bit more success and a little bit more of a veteran role helps you really express it and turn it into a leadership role,” Stone said.

Stone and Jackson’s teammates cherish their leadership.

“They bring a great, great presence. I mean those guys they bring energy, they’re always encouraging. RJ and Brennan always holding me and everybody else on this team to a higher standard,” said WSU linebacker Hudson Cedarland.

By being authentic to themselves and hyping up their brothers on the field and expressing the highs and lows of the season with the team, Stone and Jackson have enough “in the bank” to hold each other and other players accountable, Jackson said.

“I can call you out knowing that I’m doing it out of a place of love,” Jackson said.

Dickert said Stone and Jackson’s value exceeds their statistical contributions.

“Leadership is more than just making plays, you know, so encouraging teammates, lifting them back up, resetting the focus. I think that’s what those two guys do and they generally love being here,” Dickert said.

Jackson said his first taste of WSU football was taking on now-NFL offensive lineman Andre Dillard in practice and getting thrown to the ground.

“First rep of one-on-ones and was like ‘I’ll go ahead and do what I do,’ and he just kindly placed me on the turf and that was when I was like, ‘Okay, maybe this is hard,’” Jackson said.

Entering their sixth and fifth years respectively at WSU, Stone and Jackson have seen three different head coaches lead the Cougs.

“I think it’s changed for the better. I think we’ve had a lot of guys who really care about this program, guys who aren’t about themselves,” Jackson said.

Dickert, Stone and Jackson’s third head coach, focuses on making the team better people outside of football, Stone said.

This season, Dickert introduced an academic / community-oriented spring competition called “Race to the Roses” which rewards players for participating in WSU events such as going to a baseball game, tennis match or a concert, and detracts points for missing a class or other bad behaviors, according to a Lewiston Tribune article.

With 2023 being the final college football season with a traditional Rose Bowl format of best in the Pac-12 versus best of the Big Ten, Dickert wants to ensure the Cougs are doing everything in their power to reach the pinnacle of Pac-12 football.

This encouraged interaction with the WSU community at large is far from new to Stone.

Stone remembers moving into Northside Hall during his freshmen year and seeing all of the other athletes. 

“I felt like I was in a movie,” Stone said. “I was like ‘Oh, where’s that guy from? What do they do?’ It was all just so new and so exciting.”

Coug fans going to a soccer game this fall will likely see a contingent of Cougar football players cheering on the Cougs of the pitch, led by Stone.

This season will be Stone and Jackson’s last on the Palouse.

Stone and Jackson said that the NFL is still very much the dream at the forefront of their minds, but that WSU has prepared them for life after football too.

Jackson wants to use his MBA degree to work for a Coug-owned business and eventually open his gym to serve as a training facility for high school student-athletes.

Stone is a communications major in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. He said he is blessed to have the connections and opportunities that the Murrow College and WSU have given him.

“I want to get into broadcasting and hopefully that’s after a nice successful pro career,” Stone said.

As for this season, Stone and Jackson take their role as leaders seriously and consider it an honor.

“I think it’s huge. It’s really just a complete reflection of who I am to my teammates and I couldn’t be more appreciative just to know that they see me in that kind of light,” Stone said.

Jackson sees it similarly.

“It’s the best feeling you can have as a football player and also as a brother,” Jackson said. “Just having guys who want to follow your lead and know that you’re leading the right way, right path.”

That right path has vaulted WSU into the AP Top 25 after a 31-22 win over then No. 19 Wisconsin in Pullman in which Coug fans rushed the field to celebrate the win.

Fans made their admiration for fifth-year Jackson and sixth-year Stone known.

“I think the coolest thing was when the fans rushed the field, a bunch of them came up to me and they’re like, ‘Thank you for staying.’ Right? I think that just means the world because for us, like, we’re bred [Cougars], we want to be here, and that’s what we bleed, we bleed crimson and gray,” Jackson said after the game. “So hearing that, it got me, like, a little teary-eyed because I’m like, ‘Guys, you don’t understand;’ thank you for giving us the opportunity for being here and wearing these colors and representing this university.”

View Comments (1)
More to Discover
About the Contributors
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen managing editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the managing editor for fall 2023. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves baseball and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.
MADDY RICE, Evergreen photographer
Maddy Rice is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Originally from White Center, Washington, she is a sophomore majoring in Business Managment, with a minor in Sports Managment. Maddy began working for the Daily Evergreen in the Fall of 2023.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Editor-in-chief
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be EIC starting in summer 2023 and enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.

Comments (1)

Social Media Policy

The Office of Student Media

The purpose of the comment section is to foster courteous and constructive discussion of relevant issues. The Daily Evergreen staff reserve the right to delete any comment we deem at odds with that mission.

We want to establish a fair and open forum for discussion, but personal attacks and threats of any kind actively take away from that purpose. Once we delete a comment we will explain both in the post and through a personal message to the sender as to why it didn’t meet our standards. We will also add a link to our social media policy page on our website. We cannot allow comments that could possibly keep others from speaking their mind on our page.

Prohibited comments include:

  • Comments with directed profanity, bullying, spam, false or misleading statements
  • Comments that could cause physical and emotional harm to any person
  • Offensive language targeted toward a specific group of people
  • Comments that are off-topic
  • Comments that are racist, sexist or bigoted
  • Comments by students working for The Office of Student Media, unless authorized
Comments are Closed.
All The Daily Evergreen Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest
  • glennSep 15, 2023 at 5:06 pm

    You might call the duo Stone wall Jackson 😉