‘D3 Nation’ aims to motivate, highlight Division III standouts


Dave DeLuca, The Record

Buffalo Bills running back and team captain Fred Jackson spoke about his new campaign, D3 Nation, at Buffalo State on Tuesday, Feb. 24.

Anthony Reyes, Associate Sports Editor

Buffalo State’s nearly 300 student-athletes filed into Coyer Gym on Tuesday to hear the motivating words of former Division III athlete and Buffalo Bills and running back, Fred Jackson.

Jackson, who played football and ran track at Coe College in Iowa, visited Buffalo State to officially launch his D3 Nation campaign.

D3 Nation aims to benefit division III athletes by offering scholarships, exposure and more. Jackson plans to visit many Division III schools and teams, offering his motivation and advice to Division III athletes, encouraging them to pursue their passion.

Jackson first spoke to the media in the Houston Gym seminar room, including several local television channels, about the campaign. Afterwards, he headed to the Sports Arena to give a speech to and answer the questions of nearly 300 Buffalo State student-athletes. All student-athletes were given a “D3 Nation” t-shirt that featured Buffalo State orange and black.

Jackson answered the questions of all students, but had one main point that he wanted to get across.

“Anybody that knows me, knows that I am extremely proud to come from Division III,” Jackson said. “And I just want to pass that along to every Division III athlete out there. I want them to hear my message, and let them know that I’m proud of where I came from and where I am today. And if it hadn’t been for Division III, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Jackson has also reached out to former Pro Bowl linebacker London Fletcher, who he referred to as the “Godfather of Division III football players” for help in spreading the word of his campaign.

“I’m hoping it goes nationwide,” Jackson said. “With everybody being at Division III, and them seeing me as a person who’s extremely proud of where I came from, I want them to have that same pride, and I want the logo to be an image that everybody is proud of and everybody is proud to put on.”

Jackson spoke about how he eventually made it to the NFL and said that one of the most important things was believing in himself. He also got some words of encouragement from former Coe College athlete and coach, former Buffalo Bills coach, and NFL hall of famer, Marv Levy. Levy told him that if he continued to work hard, he believed that he had the talent to go to the NFL.

At the age of 34, Jackson knows that his time in the NFL may soon be coming to an end. The launch of D3 Nation is a way he is hoping to build his legacy and continue to give back to the game even when he’s no longer on the field.

Buffalo State student-athletes were excited and grateful to have Jackson address them and have the opportunity to ask him questions.

“It was awesome just to hear another D-III person come and talk about what it took to get to the next level,” junior football player John Alessandra said. “It shows you that anything is possible. It kind of just makes you proud of division III because all the time you hear, ‘oh, its only D-III,’ because they don’t really know what it means or what it takes to be a D-III athlete, and the level of competition.

“The separation between D-III and D-I is a thin line, the same with professionally. So it’s kind of cool just to see him bring truth to what I already believed in.”

Senior softball player Taylor Swiatek was also motivated by Jackson’s perspective.

“As a student-athlete and him coming from D-III, it was awesome to see such a successful athlete come and talk to us,” Swiatek said. “It makes you want to just keep pushing and pushing because like he said, you come in, you work hard and you play because you love the sport.”

Senior football and track star Rich Pete got the chance to speak to Jackson one-on-one.

“I took a lot from what Fred had to say,” Pete said. “Being a fellow running back, his words were very inspiring. He told me to stay strong, and that you can achieve wherever you come from. You can get to the next level if you believe in yourself and you believe in the people around you.”

One final question came from the crowd of student-athletes, “What are the chances you come back for an athletic event here?” To which Jackson answered, “Is that an invite?” Which drew a huge roar from the crowd, and Jackson replied, “Then I will be back.”

Email: [email protected]

Sports Editor Dan Almasi contributed to this story