From ‘Last Chance U’ to Wazzu

Two players on Leach’s roster were featured in Netflix documentary



Sophomore safety Chad Davis Jr., left, and junior wide receiver Calvin Jackson Jr., right, both played for Independence CC last season, and were a part of the Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U.”

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

From high school ball on Florida’s southern shores to playing at a junior college in Independence, Kansas, it seems fitting that the next stop for junior wide receiver Calvin Jackson Jr. and sophomore safety Chad Davis Jr. would be on the op-posite side of the country from where they started their football journey.

Fitting, because football has a funny way of giving all sorts of wonderful opportunities to the athletes who endure never-ending adversity. And Jackson and Davis would be the first ones to tell you about it in a unique way — say, being a part of the Netflix original series “Last Chance U,” a reality TV show that follows a junior college football or JUCO pro-gram.

As a duo, their story is quite remarkable in the sense that they are two completely different individuals yet they have never been farther apart than the distance that separates their hometowns in Florida.

Jackson, a very outgoing personality, characterized being on camera all the time as “a once in a lifetime thing,” while Davis, who is much more reserved, didn’t like being in front of the cameras at all.

“It was a great opportunity, and I seized it,” Jackson said about being heavily featured on “Last Chance U”.

“Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of the cameras,” Davis said. “I tried to stay away from the cameras, I went to JUCO on a business trip, not to get some type of clout or notoriety off of Last Chance U.”

Both Jackson and Davis were blindsided by the news that they were about to become reality TV stars.

For Jackson, the show was shot in his second year at Independence Community College in Kansas and when he re-ceived word that Netflix chose his school, he couldn’t have been more thrilled.

“We were pretty excited about it,” Jackson said about going through the selection process of “Last Chance U”. “They came in during the summer to interview us and we were one of the seven schools, so at first we thought we weren’t going to get it, and then we got the call a few weeks later that they selected us, and that was just crazy. Everyone was excited.”

But for Davis, the news came just after he made the decision to come to Indy nine days before its report date.

“When I got there, they told me Netflix would be coming for Last Chance U,” Davis said. “I thought they would be coming for just a game not the whole season, so it definitely took me by surprise.”

Jackson and Davis’ differences are notable, but their similarities are what truly define their story. Despite differences in personality or feelings toward “Last Chance U,” they knew they went to Independence CC for one reason: to get out.

If you watch “Last Chance U,” you’ll hear this all the time: “I’m going to get out,” or “I’m going to make it.”

Sure, it is poetic and makes you root for them, but the cold, hard reality of their situation is that not everyone makes it. Not everyone is going to the league like they say they are. A lot of them won’t even make it to the next level of college football, let alone become a professional.

But neither Jackson nor Davis would let their dreams die in a rural town in Kansas, far away from what they call home.

While their performance at the JUCO level is what earned them their scholarships at WSU, they have turned away from the status quo of what “making it” means for a JUCO athlete. They both admit that they hope to make it to the NFL after their time at WSU, but they both have plans for careers outside of playing football.

Both Jackson and Davis are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sport management and would like to stay around the game.

For Jackson, he would like to participate in football however he can, whether as a coach or an athletic trainer. Davis hopes to get involved in sports administration when he decides to hang up the cleats.

So here they are, in Pullman, Washington — which Davis described as “New York City,” compared to Independence — starting their own new season of “Last Chance U.” But in this version, Netflix won’t be there to film it. Reality TV has finally run its course, and for Jackson and Davis, it’s back to plain and refreshing reality.