Hometown rally planned for Sparta native drafted by Cowboys

Sparta, IL native drafted by Dallas Cowboys

SPARTA, IL (KFVS) - Darius Jackson may be the next professional athlete to come from the Heartland.

The small town native played four years in Sparta, graduating in 2012, before continuing his success at Eastern Michigan.

However, he said the time he spent in Sparta shaped his career in football, that means a stop in Dallas.

We talked to him and those closest to him about the moment he said his life changed.

"It was just a feeling I really can't describe," he said. "To get that call from Jerry Jones, the most known name in the NFL, to play for the Dallas Cowboys."

It was in that moment Jackson said he realized hard work paid off.

"My voice cracked when I said I was playing for them," he said. "All of the emotions hit me at once."

The 6-foot running back said the last three days have been a whirlwind for him and his family.

On Monday, he was able to share his excitement with some of his biggest fans.

For those who sport the uniform Jackson once did, witnessing a Sparta Bulldog go all the way is ever inspiring.

"Everyone told us, 'You can't make it, you're from Sparta.' Well, we seen he did it, so now I think we can get it," said Sparta High School junior Justyce Bulliner.

"It gives our kids an opportunity to see if you work hard and stay the course, that good things can happen for you," said Sparta's Athletic Director Rich Williamson. "It is huge for athletic program overall."

Jackson said the journey could not have been made without three things: loyalty, respect and family.

He said his family both on and off the field is what kept him focused.

"To have so much love and so much support, it truly means everything," he said. "It really does."

"Darius has worked hard his entire life to get where he is at today. It's all of his hard work," said Stephen Walker, Jackson's grandpa.

The Cowboys' website features video of team owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones congratulating Jackson by phone.

After an excited "Oh my God!," Jackson declares that he is, "ready to go to work."

Jackson  hopes his story encourages others to find their passion and never give up.

"Stay true to yourself, surround yourself with people who want to be as successful as you want to be," Jackson said.

Jackson heads to Dallas on Thursday for six weeks of rookie mini camp.

Training camp starts at the end of July and then it's go time.

According to Jackson's family, a celebration including a downtown parade was set for Monday afternoon.

The Sparta Police Dept. confirms it will escort Jackson's family from their home to both the Sparta grade and high schools, where rallies will be held.

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