When Mansfield Lake Ridge quarterback Jett Duffey and Grapevine coach Randy Jackson’s names were called as the 2015 winners of the Tom Landry Award for North Texas player of the year and coach of the year, their initial thoughts were not of themselves.
Duffey’s first thanks went to his teammates who have helped him put together a 15-0 record en route to Lake Ridge’s first trip to a state title in the program’s fourth season of varsity football.
One hundred percent of it goes to my team.
Mansfield Lake quarterback Jett Duffey after winning the Tom Landry Award
“One hundred percent of it goes to my team,” said Duffey, who has committed to Texas Tech. “Without them making the catches and without them doing those things they do on Friday nights and sometimes Saturday nights, I wouldn’t be here.”
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In his senior season, Duffey passed for 2,680 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushed for 1,667 yards and 20 touchdowns. More valuable than all the yards and points he accrued for the Eagles, though, was his leadership in establishing a winning culture in the young program, coach Kirk Thor said.
“The culture he helped create in the locker room with building a football family of players, he’s done a great job,” Thor said. “I’m just proud of him. He’s well deserving of the award.”
Duffey beat out four other finalists, including fellow Mansfield ISD running back Kennedy Brooks from Mansfield High and Euless Trinity running back Ja’Ron Wilson.
“I was hoping it would go to him,” Brooks said. “Me and him are just trying to put Mansfield on the map.”
When I won it, that’s the first thing I thought of was, it’s going to make my dad proud. It’s a cool deal.
Grapevine coach Randy Jackson after winning the Tom Landry Award
For Jackson, the thought of his father, a retired Texas high school football and basketball coach, was the first image in his mind when his name was called.
On Wednesday, Jackson and the bronze fedora trophy will visit his father Raymond in Tenaha, where Raymond coached for decades.
“It’ll be a big deal,” Jackson said. “When I won it, that’s the first thing I thought of was, it’s going to make my dad proud. It’s a cool deal.”
Currently in poor health, just knowing his son was nominated for an award linked to the famous Dallas Cowboys coach greatly lifted his spirits, the Grapevine coach said.
“I just love the fact that he walked his faith and everybody knows who Tom Landry is and everyone knew what he stood for,” Jackson said. “There are so many coaches out there who win, but that’s all they’re about. Tom Landry was about winning and doing it the right way. He was a man of character.”
Jackson stepped into the North Texas spotlight in 2010-11, leading a winless Mesquite Poteet team the year prior to the 4A Division II state semifinals.
This year he turned a 3-8 record from his first year at Grapevine last season into an 8-3 record.
“Last year during the off-season, it was almost a survival kind of off-season,” he said. “I knew the guys that came out of it were going to be all in and be our kind of guys.
“I’m just very thankful to be at a school where the kids will answer the bell because we ask a lot of them,” he added. “They punch the time clock every day. We work the hound out of them and they show up every day and they do it.”
The Landry Award ceremony was taped Monday at The Hope Center in Plano and will air at 6:30 p.m. Friday on KTVT/11.
Travis L. Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org, @Travis_L_Brown.